What I loved about Physics lessons was that you got to do experiments.
What I loved about the physics teacher was that she let us experiment, really experiment.
One day, after we had been learning about Young’s Modulus - which is about the stretchability of metals in particular - my classmate and I made excellent use of a worm that we had found.
In the Young’s Modulus experiment, a sample of the metal to be stretched, in the classroom example usually 10 or 20 cm long and a few millimetres thick, is suspended on a retort stand between a clamp and an adjustable weight. To the adjustable weight would be added additional weights and the increasing length of the metal sample would be measured each time.
A graph of the extension over time would be used to calculate the Young’s Modulus of the copper wire, steel wire, elastic band et cetera.
My classmate and I decided to perform a Young’s Modulus experiment on the worm. Perhaps I should interject here that the worm was dead. It had been washed in detergent by another student. It may have died a horrible death but when we found it, it was clearly dead. It looked like a thin strip of leather.
When the physics teacher came into the room and saw that we were stretching a worm she was initially horrified.
My classmate and I were able to convince her of the scientific viability of a Young’s Modulus test for this poor unfortunate worm.
She chose to take us seriously in our scientific endeavours. She questioned us thoroughly on our choice of material, the fixing method, the choice of the weights to add, our measuring system for time and length.
Her questions were answered with the greatest of sincerity which was in strong contrast to the silent imaginary screams of the stretched worm.
What I appreciated most about the physics teacher was that she took our childlike curiosity, our adolescent playfulness and our budding scientific so seriously. She did not harshly judge us for our naughtiness, instead she respected the young scientists that we were becoming.
My friend and I became two of the best scientists in the class. Our experiments were always well thought out, immaculately designed and fully written up in the proper scientific way.
I always got top marks in science in fact on one test I gained 106%. It’s a mystery to me to this day.
The fact that I still remember it shows how important it was.
And still is.
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