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PHS students take part in Physics Days at Valley Fair

Cassie Beseman determines the height of a ride at Valley Fair during Physics Days. Submitted photo

Thanks to money donated by the 549 Foundation, Perham High School physics students were able to participate in real-world applications of physics concepts learned in the classroom.

Students traveled to Minnesota State University in Moorhead, Minn., to learn how physics is applied in astronomy. They watched a presentation at the planetarium and worked with physics professor Sarah Schultz to learn about astronomical research taking place at the school's observatory.

Next year's physics students will conduct research on variable stars using data supplied by the Moorhead university's physics professors. Students will calculate and plot the period of an assigned variable star and submit the results to the university and the Astronomical Registry. As students become more experienced with the research process, they will be able to design their own research projects and work with university astronomers to collect the necessary data.

Students also traveled to Valley Fair amusement park in Shakopee, Minn., at the end of the school year. Valley Fair, in conjunction with the Minnesota Science Teachers Association, offers Physics Days.

The park is transformed into the state's largest classroom during Physics Days. Students explore the laws of physics and engineering concepts by making a variety of measurements on the rides and then translating that data using equations learned throughout the course of the year.

Students calculate a variety of things like centripetal force, gravitational potential energy, kinetic energy, velocity, acceleration, g-forces, power and more. Students then present their findings back in the classroom.