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Tomato Launch teaches physics

Posted: October 9, 2012 - 12:26pm  |  Updated: October 9, 2012 - 12:30pm
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Members of the Murrica Team prepare their machine for the Tomato Lauch competition held annually for teacher Kathy Gambill's physics students at North Augusta High School.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Members of the Murrica Team prepare their machine for the Tomato Lauch competition held annually for teacher Kathy Gambill's physics students at North Augusta High School.

Physics students lined the dirt parking lot with machines ready to do some damage Thursday at North Augusta High School.

While one student stood on the “X” wearing a hula hoop, teammates fired their contraptions to shoot a tomato at the hula hoop during Kathy Gambill’s annual Tomato Launch competition. The goal was to get the tomato in the hula hoop without the person having to move. Steps added points and the goal, like in golf, was to get as close to zero as possible.

Team Here Comes Honey Boom Boom tied for first place with team Mousetrap, which consisted of Kristy Heath and Mallory Burckhalter.

For team Here Comes Honey Boom Boom, it took classmates Danny Thomas, Marc Outlaw, Adam Parler and Tayo Carrizales about four days to construct their catapult, they said. After a trial run and adjusting the machine a little, the team was dead on during the competition for reaching the “X” where Tayo stood wearing a hula hoop.

“It took a lot of time and a lot of trials. We changed our design plans a couple times,” said Tayo, of constructing the catapult. The final plan was flawless on competition day.

Danny said they used a tennis ball weighted close to the weight of a tomato to practice with prior to the competition.

Over at team Ballista Boyz, Colt Gross, Eric Glover and Sachin Chaudhary decided to design a ballista instead of a catapult simply because they hadn’t seen anyone use that type of machine at a previous competition.

“It is the best ballista I have ever had,” Gambill said.

The group didn’t place in the top three, but they still had fun. Colt said the machine didn’t have enough distance, but it was great for accuracy.

Gambill said the annual competition is a great motivator for students to learn physics.

“I want it to be fun,” she said, adding that it gives them an idea of what can be created using physics.

The Tomato Launch is used to teach motion, force and energy.

Other winners were team Buster, second place, which included Zach Livingston, Sara Nichols, Sheena Amin and Julia Spieker, and Bill of Wrights, third place, with Taylor Wright, Alex Ward, Nick Barrs and Drew Huskey.

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