Groovy Gruber ‘Blows Up’ the First Day of School

Instead of going over rules and expectations on the first day of school, TAHS physics teacher Bryan Gruber engaged his students in a physics experiment.

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Tyrone High School physics teacher Bryan Gruber is a very interesting man. A man of physics, a man of chemistry, and a man of peach trees.

Well known for his outstanding teaching in science and mathematics, his unique and interactive physics experiments are legendary among his students. From rolling marbles, to exploding substances, to his famous physics boat race, Gruber does his best to keep his students entertained while learning.

Anything we added to the balloon increased our time. We tried to make a parachute out of the plastic bag but it didn’t work. The only thing that worked was making the balloon bigger”

— Kevin Lehner

This fall he applied his creativity to the first day of school.

For most students, the first day of school is boring. Teachers typically spend the day covering their course syllabus, and going over various policies or classroom rules. Yada, yada, yada.

But Gruber had enough of that and decided to make the first day of school a little more active for his physics students.

“I thought the kids would be tired of the teachers talking all day, going over the syllabus, so [I decided to do] something different,” said Gruber.

The experiment introduced students to two of the most basic properties of physics, gravity and friction.

The goal of the experiment was to drop a balloon from the ceiling as slowly as possible, using only a few additional items: tissues, tape, string and plastic bags. Students had to consider how friction works to push against gravity’s pull.

Having a simple yet very easy to understand introduction to physics through experimentation was a great way to get his students thinking on day one.

“I just wanted to see how the kids work together and how well they were able to figure out the activity, which was to get the balloon to drop the slowest,” said Gruber.

As the activity concluded, it was determined that blowing the balloon up as large as possible and just dropping it by itself was the best option. All the other materials that students added to the balloon just made it fall faster.

“Anything we added to the balloon increased our time. We tried to make a parachute out of the plastic bag but it didn’t work. The only thing that worked was making the balloon bigger,” said senior Kevin Lehner.

Most students were intrigued by Gruber’s back-to-school experiment and appreciated an active start to the year in physics class.

Senior Kaleb Snook was pleased that he something new on the first day. He hopes to learn how more things work in physics class this year.

“You know having a experiment on the first day of school was different, I was expecting to go in there and have a boring syllabus and take a nap,” said Snook.

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