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Fabulous Fisics Fotos

Every year the American Association of Physics Teachers sponsors a physics photo contest for high school students. This year they partnered with Lexmark International, Inc. Here are some of my favorites...

Magnetic Distortions
I love this picture, taken by Bahoa Pan of Cranbrook Kingswood School and awarded honorable mention in the competition. The horseshoe magnet was placed on a CRT computer monitor to illustrate how a magnetic field deflects charges. Read Bahoa's description here.

Bending Water
Look closely - see the stream of water attracted to the balloon? This picture of a charged balloon attracting water molecules, taken by Matthew Claspill of Helias High School, was a second place winner. I've done this demonstration before with a charged comb and I admit that it's pretty neat, but this picture is awesome! I'm using a balloon next time.

Demonstration of Newton's 1st Law
Kevin Rosenquist of West Chicago Community High School took this first place picture. He filled a long balloon with water, set it on a railing, and punctured the balloon to demonstrate Newton's first law. The picture was taken after the balloon retracted but before the water spilled down the railing.

Coil of Smoke
This picture of a coil of smoke, also a first place winner, was taken by Marina Autina of Treasure Valley Math & Science Center. It's a beautiful picture taken to illustrate the laminar and turbulent flow of the smoke.

I've always been a fan of science and art and I think this program is a great way to let students explore science using technology and art. I'm not sure need to mention how important good communication is in science - but let me emphasize that pictures can be worth a thousand words - even in science. Sometimes more. A big congratulations to all of those that submitted pictures this year!


  1. I liked the picture 'coil of smoke' most. I think there are many interesting principles of physics in the coil even though one can explain it as stream lined and turbulent flow very loosely.


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