Danger!, Will Robinson; Pottsgrove’s Physics Stuff Is Old

Danger!, Will Robinson. Pottsgrove Physics Stuff Is Old

Physics teacher Andrew Friedlund demonstrating the old …

POTTSTOWN PA – It was, it would have seemed, just like any other class for enthusiastic Pottsgrove High School physics teacher Andrew Friedlund. He held his learners in rapt attention, he demonstrated a physics concept using both antiquated and modern means, and he repeatedly made his point.

Danger!, Will Robinson. Pottsgrove Physics Stuff Is Old

… and the borrowed new of classroom tools Tuesday to the Board of School Directors

But Friedlund’s Tuesday night (Dec. 3, 2013) audience was no group of his routinely brainy students, any one of whom might invent The Next Big Thing. Instead, it consisted of members of the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors and local parents and taxpayers, some of whom may have taken their last science course more than a quarter-century ago. Friedlund’s task: convince that crowd to fund an extensive list of new classroom equipment and materials.

He succeeded.

Board members unanimously authorized Friedlund, high school principal Dr. Bill Ziegler, and Business Manager David Nester to go shopping for best prices on the listed items, and return to them with a precisely cost-laden proposal. Based on a November board discussion the amount could total $50,000, but might be less because bids must be solicited for the purchases, Nester said.

The expense will be covered by a portion of the $950,000 surplus with which the district ended the 2012-2013 academic year.

Ziegler opened the physics request with a short self-produced video, then introduced Friedlund, who smiled broadly as he practically rocketed out of his chair to talk with directors. He demonstrated equipment the district owned to calculate acceleration – a four-wheel toy car towing a dotted paper tape; “it’s really old,” he noted – and compared it to a computerized measurement tool borrowed from another district.

The paper tape, Friedlund indicated, was practically a stone-age relic. It’s computer-connected descendant, on the other hand, “gives us reams of data that students could use and manipulate and analyze in a dozen ways.”

There were other relics, too, shown in photos as part of the high school’s current physics toolbox: an ancient vacuum pump, deteriorating circuit boards, a function generator that looked like it belonged on the set of the 1960s “Lost In Space” television series. “We have an urgent need right now,” Friedlund told the board. Replacing the dated equipment, he said, “will help us be competitive with other schools in the area.”

Directors, mindful of a multi-million high school renovation now being considered and the new STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) classrooms it is due to include, agreed.

Related (to the Pottsgrove Board of School Directors’ Dec. 3 meeting):