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Welcome to the Brainstorm Blog! The primary news source the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS), Mississippi's only public, residential high school dedicated to the development of the state's most academically gifted students.

Toy Cars, Zoom Zoom

Columbus, Miss. – Change in distance divided by change in time equals fun with toy cars. That’s what MSMS students recently learned while working in Mr. Funderburk’s physics lab. This interactive study in velocity had battery operated Mustangs, Camaros, and Jeeps zooming all over the physics lab floor. This year his students are in for a treat as his labs, like this one, will be facilitated by two National Science Foundation (NSF) Fellows from Mississippi State University.

Abdullah Dakjlalla, a PhD student in Biological Engineering, and Ben Lewis, a PhD student in Physics, are both recipients of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.  

Abdullah and Ben’s lab exercise, called Toy Cars, Zoom, Zoom, had student teams running several time trials with each toy car. By taking the average time it took each car to get to a certain distance, the teams were able to plot on a graph the intersection point where all cars were running at the same velocity (equal distance and equal time). Abdullah and Ben then had the teams place their three cars at different starting points. From those starting points, students were asked to find the “finish line” where the toy car drag race would end up in a photo finish.   “This is a great way to visualize how calculating velocity can be done,” said Ben Lewis. “Abdullah and I couldn’t be happier to be recognized by the NSF, and we couldn’t be happier to have the chance to work with these gifted students. “

Past NSF fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners, U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, Google founder, Sergey Brin, and Freakonomics co-author, Steven Levitt. MSMS students are delighted to have Abdullah and Ben working with them this year.

Wade LeonardComment