High School "Physics Day" Will
Feature Balloon-Powered Cars
Posted April 22, 2002
HOLLAND -- Fuel efficiency will be a major concern
during the eighth annual "Physics Day" at Hope College on
Thursday, May 2.
In the event's traditional design and construction
contest, which will be held in the Dow Center beginning at 9
a.m., teams of students from eight Michigan high schools
have been challenged to create vehicles powered by the air
from a balloon.
They've been told that their vehicle will need to
reach a target located between five and 12 meters (16-39
feet) away--they'll learn the exact distance on the morning
of the contest. The winning team will be chosen based on
how close its vehicle came to the target in two trials.
The teams are free to choose the form their
vehicle takes, working within just a few general parameters:
all of the energy supply must come from the air-filled
balloon; the vehicle can't leave behind a launch pad or
other parts; the vehicle can't be touched once it's started
its run; and the vehicle has to carry a light cargo--a small
Physics Day decal that will be provided just before the
The contest is one of three events in which the
four-member teams will compete. Later in the morning, they
will have a chance to solve a physics problem presented to
them at the time, using only their wits and materials
provided. Following lunch, each team will solve a set of
Physics Day is coordinated by the college's
department of physics and engineering. The two teams that
earn the highest scores through the three events will
receive a monetary prize to support the teaching of science
at their respective high schools.
The schools participating this year include:
Bangor High School, Battle Creek Math and Science Center,
Holland Christian High School, Hudsonville High School,
Owosso High School, Rockford High School, St. Joseph High
School and West Ottawa High School.