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Easthampton High School students get hands-on lesson in physics and safe driving

Easthampton firefighter Kevin Benson wets the pavement during a joint classroom learning experience with Abe Phelps' Science class and local law enforcement thursday at Nonotuck park in Easthampton.

Easthampton firefighter Kevin Benson wets the pavement during a joint classroom learning experience with Abe Phelps' Science class and local law enforcement thursday at Nonotuck park in Easthampton. JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

Easthampton High School physics teacher Abraham Phelps was looking for a way to help his students “apply a little physics to the real world.”

Last week the 10 students in his “Physics and Society” class braved the chilly early morning temperatures in Nonotuck Park to take part in a live demonstration of the principals of velocity and acceleration.

As they looked on, School Resource Officer Alan Schadel revved up a police cruiser for a series of runs across a parking lot near Pavilion 3. After he applied the brakes — first on dry pavement and then a slicked-down surface created with help from the town Fire Department — students measured the distance it took for the vehicle to come to a stop.

Although the cruiser never went above 40 mph, “It looks way faster,” said junior Shequahn Reid, after one of the longer runs.

His classmate, Gabrielle Carey, a senior, explained that a videotape Phelps was recording of each run would later be plugged into a computer program to create measurements against which the students could test their own calculations.

Carey already had the equation down pat: “V, for velocity, is equal to distance over time,” she said.

In addition to physics, Schadel and Police Chief Bruce McMahon — who also participated in the class — used the time to offer some tips on safe driving.

“We want to help them understand that a couple of miles per hour can be the difference between hitting someone and not,” said Schadel, who’s in his eighth year as school resource officer.

McMahon noted that without the cruiser’s anti-lock brakes, it would have taken even longer for the vehicle to come to a stop.

“This is a really good lesson for the students,” he added. “It’s practical knowledge they can use.”

High School Principal Vito Perrone also helped out with the class.

Cafeteria food survey

Chartwells, the city’s food services vendor, wants to know what students think about school breakfast and lunch offerings. The company is asking students to complete a brief online survey that will help answer the question of what is next for Easthampton’s school food program.

The survey, designed to take less than 5 minutes, is confidential, according to Chartwells. The online link will be available through Nov. 16.

Middle and high school students should go to: http://www.survey,monkey.com/s/Chartwells_HS-MS-Lunch_Survey. For elementary school students, the link is: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Chartwells_Elementary_Lunch_Survey.

Unique art

Artist David Poppie says he likes to use everyday, disposable items in his work. Tea bags, matchbooks and plastic silverware are among the materials he has incorporated in his art. His piece “Pop Song 2” was created using the tips of colored pencils that accumulated in his studio.

Poppie, a resident of Easthampton for the past two years, is donating the 9-by-12-inch artwork to help the campaign for a $1.4 million property tax override for the city schools. People who donate $10 or more to the Committee for Stronger Schools, the citizens group backing the override, can enter their names in a drawing to be held on election day for the original work.

Poppie, whose son is still in preschool, said his experience with a grant-funded, artist-in-residence program at city elementary schools last spring led him to support the override measure on the ballot Nov. 6.

“Getting involved and meeting teachers made me realize that they just don’t have the tools they need to do their job,” he said.

Poppie, who holds a master’s degree in art from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, shows regularly in New York and across the country. For details on the drawing, visit the committee’s website at www.committeeforstrongerschoolseasthampton.org.

Barbara Solowcan be reached at BSolow@gazettenet.com.

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