Particle physics experiments

Redlands teacher guides students’ out-of-the-ordinary experiences – Redlands Daily Facts

Paul DeVoe’s physics lessons are not limited to monitoring quasars with a radio telescope, determining trajectories and solving equations. In the midst of a pandemic, it’s also important to the teacher at Redlands High School that his students have hope and learn to think for themselves.

On Jan. 24, DeVoe was one of eight nominees from Corona to Blythe at the California League of High Schools District 10 Educator of the Year ceremony, held virtually due to coronavirus precautions. .

Paul DeVoe, physics teacher at Redlands High School (Photo courtesy of Redlands Unified School District)

He didn’t win the title, which went to Keith Brockie, an art teacher at Arroyo Valley High in San Bernardino, but DeVoe was the only educator in the group to mention that students sent experiments to the International Space Station. .

DeVoe, who has been teaching for more than three decades, told attendees about his favorite parts of teaching, starting with “the joy of seeing the spark of a student figuring something out.”

Currently, his students monitor air quality, take pictures and explain the physics behind them, program robots to navigate a maze, make holograms, solder radios together, build and demonstrate their own musical instruments, and Moreover.

Twice in the past two years, his students have sent an experiment to the space station as part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program comparing the effect of weightlessness on lemongrass growth.

Maximilian Floridia, a former student who led the team working on this experiment, said the most important lesson he learned from his teacher “is how exciting, practical and collaborative science can be.”

In an emailed statement, he called DeVoe’s class inspiring.

While working on the project, Floridia wrote, DeVoe “approached our research with a strong curiosity that often fostered discussions and made us want to keep experimenting.”

Honors Physics and AP Physics student Kailana Nishiura was also inspired.

  • Anna Nguyen is seen here in April 2021 working on an experiment comparing the effect of weightlessness on lemongrass growth as part of Paul DeVoe’s physics class at Redlands High School. The experiment has been sent to the International Space Station twice, once in October 2020 and again in August 2021. (Photo courtesy of Redlands Unified School District)

  • Maximilian Floridia, left, and Evan Kusko, seen here in August 2021, work on an experiment comparing the effect of weightlessness on lemongrass growth as part of Paul DeVoe’s physics class at Redlands High School. The experiment has been sent to the International Space Station twice, once in October 2020 and again in August 2021. (Photo courtesy of Redlands Unified School District)

  • An experiment comparing the effect of weightlessness on lemongrass growth is pictured here in August 2021 being prepared for a flight on the International Space Station. The project is part of Paul DeVoe’s physics class at Redlands High School. (Photo courtesy of Redlands Unified School District)

“One of the most eye-opening moments for me was when I used mathematical formulas to predict where a projectile would land before it was fired,” Nishiura said in a mailed statement. electronic. “I had never done anything like this before, and it was exciting to see how the insights could be applied directly to real life.”

Ben Otter, Class of 2023, said in an emailed statement that he could not remember the last time DeVoe lectured to his students.

“Rather, we learn by discovery,” Otter wrote. While physics is about equations, “we observe to understand and in the end we figured out the equations ourselves”.

At the awards ceremony earlier this month, Redlands Unified officials noted that DeVoe had worked to improve the percentage of female students taking AP physics from less than 20% when the course was offered for the first time to now over 50%, and during distance learning, he launched a professional development workshop for science teachers in the district.

Physics class instructors must have a physics teaching degree, which few teachers have, principal Kate Van Luven said in an emailed statement.

“In order to expand the physical offering at Redlands high schools, Mr. DeVoe helps lead the training load,” she added.

Hours before the Jan. 24 awards ceremony, DeVoe presented the space station experiment to elementary, middle and high school students to gather proposals for this year’s launch in May. The winning project from Redlands will join 23 other student projects as close as Moreno Valley and Perris and as far away as Canada and Ukraine.

Teaching is key, DeVoe told viewers of the awards show.

“There are many opinions disguised as facts and facts that many believe to be opinions,” he said. “Part of what I do is show students how we know what we know, and in fact how much we really don’t know. I try to provide some sort of nonsense detector for students to detect propaganda. I also try to give hope.

The pandemic and climate change can be overwhelming for students, he said, “but the pandemic will end and there are solutions to our problems. Part of my job is to stay optimistic about the future and educate students about some of these solutions. »

Rising solar efficiency, nuclear fusion and other technologies mean the world could indeed begin to reduce its consumption of fossil fuels, he said in an email.

“Hope is especially important for our students because they need to know they have a future, a bright future where they can contribute and find satisfaction in that contribution,” he said. “They just have to be adaptable and be willing to learn what needs to be learned and draw courage from their beliefs to act.”