Physics constructs instruments

By Venisa Wang

Staff Writer

On Feb. 14, Gabrielino High School students taking Advanced Placement (AP) Physics 1 presented self-made wind and string instruments in class.

This is the first year that physics teacher Kevin McClure, has conducted this project, and the turnout was a success. The students worked with not only the materials provided, but added their own creative twist as well.

Each student started off with a baseline grade of a C for producing the instrument, but was given extra credit for decorating and playing various songs.

Students found themselves both entertained and challenged with this project. With each type of instrument came its own level of difficulty, string being more difficult than wind, as those students had to purchase their own materials and take more time to construct their instrument.

Because of the complexity that came with piecing the pipes together, many students went through trial and error before completing their final piece.

According to junior Kent Hua, creating his ideal pan flute took two tries.

Hua explained, “I used PVC pipes, hot glue gun, as well as tape and pennies, but I had to make sure that each pipe was cut correctly to get the right notes.”

The windpipe instruments differed from one another as they were composed of “different colors, sounds, and designs,” stated senior Kenny To.

On the other hand, creating the string instruments was more time-consuming as students were required to use extra thinking in order to generate the perfect pitch.

Senior Christina Lee decided to take on the challenge of making a string instrument and explained that the smallest mistakes could make the project go wrong.

“The hardest part was measuring the wood to to cut and the distance between each fret,” Lee stated. “Filling the fretboard was tedious, but I had a great time making it with the help of my friends, Andrea and Michelle.”

McClure was extremely proud of the work his students put into their instruments.

“Primarily I do [this project] because I want students to understand how waves work in real life,” McClure continued, “For me, seeing students realize music isn’t magic but simple science is pretty amazing.”

Creating wind and string instruments allowed students to get a hands-on perspective on how sound wavelengths work in the real world.

“Making the windpipe instruments allowed me to understand physics in a way that I never thought I’d be able to before,” stated senior Jennifer Moreno. “The project allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and realize what physics really entails beyond the textbook.”

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