By Abijah Ahern

Laramie High School students have begun a new unit where they build and test rockets.

The LHS Physics department is led by Eric Weitzel and Pete Kontaxes. Both teachers have been working towards the rocket project since early in the school year.

The students have studied topics such as vectors, gravitational pull and the mathematical equations for the forces of motion. The aim of this project is to take the theoretical concepts the class has been covering and apply them to a practical situation.

For many of the students the new project is exciting and interesting.

“Watch out, Elon Musk,” LHS Senior Ryan McManaman said.

Projects like this help student’s work out the steps they need to reach their goals.

“We’ve been working on all of this stuff in theoretical terms for a while now,” McManaman said. “I’m really excited to put it into practice and I don’t think I’d be nearly as prepared if we hadn’t worked on it in class first.”

The LHS science program emphasizes hands-on learning. In addition to the rockets, past physics projects have included experiments involving pendulums and potato guns.

Hands-on learning isn’t unique to the physics department. In the chemistry department experiments include color-changing pennies and making elephant toothpaste. The paste is a result of rapidly deteriorating hydrogen peroxide. 

These large-scale projects wouldn’t be possible without the equipment set up in the new LHS building. The equipment allows science teachers to do demonstrations that would otherwise be considered too impractical or unsafe at the old LHS building.

For students that find physics challenging and engaging, their current physics class doesn’t have to be the end of their learning. Kontaxes offers a more specialized AP physics class that emphasizes the mathematics of physics and helps students towards a degree in physics or engineering by providing an opportunity to earn a college credit.