Lewis Cass High School, Walton, Indiana,

Kings' Courier

A Shocking Day in Physics

Mr.+Miller+created+visual+of+static+electricity+with+the+dome+and+a+conductor.+
Mr. Miller created visual of static electricity with the dome and a conductor.

Mr. Miller created visual of static electricity with the dome and a conductor.

Mr. Miller created visual of static electricity with the dome and a conductor.

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When our 4th hour physics’ class completed the notes for the day, Mr. Miller rubbed his hands together and said, “Now onto the fun stuff.” As a student in a science class, this could mean “teacher exciting” or “student exciting,” which any of my peers will attest to the drastic difference. However, once he began with the two experiments, the whole class was buzzing with energy.

Mr. Miller began the day with a smaller experiment and device called an electroscope. He set a camera to the small container and broadcasted it on the Promethean board where all the students could easily see. A piece of aluminum foil was attached to a metal rod in a container so many factors such as wind would not affect the experiment. Rubbing fur on a plastic rod, Mr. Miller built up negatively charged electrons and moved the rod slowly around the metal ball which is attached to foil, and the two flaps of the foil moved away from each other. Mr. Miller explained that the electrons were being transferred to the aluminum foil which was making the flaps repel one another. This laid the foundation for our next experiment.

A slender cylinder attached to a dome sat in the corner of the room quite ordinarily until Mr. Miller turned off the lights and turned on the apparatus. The dome produces static electricity which will cause a “lightning” bolt to shoot off of the mechanism toward a conductor, electrode. After seeing this, all the students remained hesitant to volunteer to touch the dome in order to complete the demonstration. Given the fact I had long, thin hair with no product, doing nothing with my hair seemed my Achilles’ heel, I remained the perfect candidate for the experiment.

I stood on a piece of wood which acted as an insulator that kept the negative charge buzzing through my body and touched the dome with great hesitation hoping that I would not get immediately shocked, and nothing of the sort happened. Next, Mr. Miller said, “You are going to start feeling something strange.” My eyes enlarged as I had no clue what “strange” entailed. Luckily, the only change was a tingling on my head and my hair raising. At one point in the demonstration, a few wisps of my hair floated to the side of my vision, and I swore something went wrong; Mr. Miller’s assuring words that I would be unharmed flew out the window as I thought it was smoke. I definitely jumped and gave a squeal much to the delight of my loyal classmates and my wonderful teacher.

However, the best part of the process came when I looked straightforward, and Mr. Miller waved his hand alongside my arm; it felt as if he was touching me even though he was not, and I could pinpoint exactly where he hovered his hand without looking, which will be the closest thing to “using the Force” and becoming a Jedi for me. One time Mr. Miller “accidentally” got too close to me and shocked me. (I believe he was having some revenge for all the stupid answers I give in his class.) I received some revenge of my own when I asked what would happen to him if he grabbed me while I was still touching the globe. With the class rooting him on and his ever love to teach, Mr. Miller touched my arm and his feet started make sizzling noises. We even saw a tiny lightning bolt come between his feet and the ground.

All in all, the lab remained a huge hit that engaged the students and helped us have fun with each other and our teacher, a feat of its own during school hours. In addition, just to let you know, the sparks were more, excuse my vernacular, shocking than they were hurtful, so no physics teachers were harmed in the making of this educational experiment.

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7 Comments

7 Responses to “A Shocking Day in Physics”

  1. Dixon Collins on April 14th, 2017 11:23 pm

    This sounds like one great lab! I have never had the chance to do an experiment like this one but I would now like to. I like how you excite the audience with your enthusiasum. Great article!

    [Reply]

  2. Kameron Schreckenghaust on April 17th, 2017 8:21 am

    I heard many students talking about this lab. I did not take a science class this year so I never got to experience these types of labs. I like how you jokingly mentioned his “accidental” shock for your wrong answers. Great article!

    [Reply]

  3. Lucy Wagoner on April 17th, 2017 12:52 pm

    I loved this lab! Last year in physics we weren’t able to learn about electricity but this year we did the same type of lab! Everyone in my class got a chance to touch the dome and shock each each other! Great story!

    [Reply]

  4. Olivia Collins on April 19th, 2017 9:10 pm

    That was the best day in physics yet! Learning more about electricity and those things has been very interesting. This lab was a great way for Mr. Miller to help us understand the lesson. Great article!

    [Reply]

  5. Jim Miller on April 21st, 2017 8:47 am

    Nice article Jess! I am glad you enjoyed the experience. Sorry about the shock. I really wasn’t trying to get revenge. Thank you for being brave enough to trust me and volunteer and thank you for writing such a wonderful article. Hopefully this will “spark” some curiosity in our student body resulting in more enthusiasm for science courses.

    [Reply]

  6. Jael Forker on April 21st, 2017 2:14 pm

    Awesome article! Reading the process of creating this “shocking” experiment was interesting and informative. I like your allusion to Star Wars and acting as a Jedi. I hope you have more fun experiments in your last weeks of Physics!

    [Reply]

  7. Ryan Waters on May 11th, 2017 1:11 pm

    sounds like it turned out to be a fun day of class, it is realy great when teachers try to make fun ways to involve and teach their students.

    [Reply]

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Lewis Cass High School, Walton, Indiana,
A Shocking Day in Physics