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PORTLAND (WGME) — The saying “when pigs fly” usually means something is impossible, but at Portland High School a STEM education is making it more than possible.
Five days a week nine students study matter. It’s motion and behavior through space and time. Otherwise known as physics.
“The thing about physics is you have to take your understanding of math and take you understanding of what you’re learning in class and combine that with just your intuition and your experience of the world, and you have to be able to combine those three things,” teacher Rosalee Lamm said.
Students are learning about circular motion. For this project, it takes a tape measure, calculator, a notepad, math skills, and a flying pig.
“We’re trying to figure out how like various centripetal forces act on the pig,” student Will Jorgensen said. “Basically, it may seem a little bit ridiculous from the outside, but they’re actually really good and demonstrating the basic physical concept of an object moving in a circular path.”
For these students, it’s the essence of a stem education.
“It takes what we’ve learned from the textbook and it puts in into real life context and it shows what we’re learning is applicable to real life,” student Emma Conrad said. “It’s really cool that you can see that with hands on kind of learning that we have here.”
While the students are hands on, teacher Rosalee Lamm is hands off for the most part.
“They do design their own procedures in here, so I don’t tell them how to do things. I give them support when they need it, but one of the skills I’m teaching is how to do a scientific investigation and how to report on it as well,” Lamm said.
Whether it’s a flying pig or some other lab, most of the students will tell you physics is one of the hardest classes they’ve ever taken, but it’s safe to say it’s one of their favorites as well.
“With physics, I’m able to be like oh, here’s this thing that I’ve experienced my whole life and now I understand why it is and what it is,” Jorgensen said.
“It’s like explanations to the physical world,” Conrad said.
Next up for this physics class: energy, electricity and then magnetism.