Students build, light houses for physics projects

Published 12:34 am Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Seniors at Andalusia High School had the opportunity to learn about circuits and electricity by designing and crafting their own houses.

AHS physics teacher Carmen Martin said that she wanted to go above and beyond with this year’s project.

“In the past, I have done games. Like think of Operation or a matching game,” Martin said. “But I wanted to take it a step further with my physics class, which is why I did the house with the different circuits within the house.”

AHS senior Whitman Jackson designed a house with modern architectural features. Courtesy photo

She said that most people are very intimidated by electricity, which is why she spends so much time on the subject.

“Some people would even say that they are afraid of electricity to a certain extent,” Martin said. “So I do spend a lot more time on electricity than the other science teachers, but I think it is important for the students to understand how it works because it is a life skill.”

The one thing that Martin wanted the students to take away from this project is a newfound confidence in themselves.

“When we first started rolling out the materials at the beginning of the electricity unit, they were a little apprehensive to touch things and do things,” Martin said. “So with this project they were given confidence to make these circuits. Secondly, I want them to learn troubleshooting skills, because electricity is very peculiar. It has a lot of little things, like if the connection is just not right, then it won’t light, and we have a tendency to give up pretty easily on things. The students learned that they had to stick with it. They had to trouble shoot, ask some questions and build on that foundation of, ‘What do I know about a circuit?’ and ‘Why won’t this light?’”

Martin said that in the classroom the students worked on the circuit work, but worked on their actual houses at their homes.

“We worked on the circuit work in the classroom because I have the soldering equipment here,” Martin said. “Also the wiring, batteries, lights battery holders, multi meters and all of those things were at the school as well.”

Students had to design and construct houses with separate series, parallel and complex circuits. The houses were required to have multiple rooms and each individual room had to be illuminated by its own light.

Some students went above and beyond by decorating the inside and outside of their houses, which Martin said was not required.

“I really like modern architecture and how everything is boxy and has a clean finish,” AHS senior Whitman Jackson said. “That is why I decided to actually decorate my house like that.”

Jackson said that the hardest part was trying to put all of the wiring in the house itself.

“Underneath the roof there is all kind of wiring and stuff to make it all work and make it secure,” Jackson said. “All of the math and diagraming was definitely tough as well. It is not as easy as it looks. I really enjoyed it, but it did challenge me. It made me learn that you have to keep pushing through, you can’t just give up whenever you don’t get something right the first time.”

AHS senior Emory Garner did not go into the project with a set style, but in the end she stayed up until almost 1 a.m., every night perfecting her country styled home.

“I started working on it and then it sort of turned into this thing as I stayed up working on it for two weeks,” Garner said. “I pulled from Pinterest and all kinds of stuff. My parents would ask me what I was working on that night and I would respond with, ‘Baseboards,’ or ‘Porch railing,’ and they would always ask me why. I just wanted to go above and beyond every since she gave us this project. I wanted to build an impressive house, because that’s just who I am.”

Garner said that the most challenging part of the project was the miniscule details that go into circuitry.

“Like Mrs. Martin said, if there is one tiny thing wrong then it won’t light,” Garner said. “Electricity really isn’t my thing, so I wouldn’t know what was wrong. It was just really challenging to get it working, but I eventually got it.”