10 September 2009

Who knew Science was so dangerous? (aka my 100th post)

I think its very appropriate this post is the 100th to make to my blog. So, without delay, let's get to what I want to share: a day in the life of Bowie's Physics classes.

my trip to the ERToday was a crazy day. It started out like any other. I was able to remember that I had duty, so I went down there and "did my duty", literally.  First block went of without a hitch. We covered some homework and then proceeded to an activity I learned at an AP conference. Students stand one meter apart, stopwatches in hand, while another student (or myself) walks/runs/jogs past. Since they have all started their stopwatches at the same time, they stop their watch when I pass them. We use this data to make a graph of position vs. time. We interpolate and extrapolate. We find the slope of the line, which just happens to be the velocity. I show them how you can have a negative velocity. Literally, the activity is everything that is right about physics. Unless, of course, something goes wrong.

Like today, during second block. Things went horribly wrong. I changed things up a bit. Problem  #1: we did the activity inside, normally we do this outside, like we did in 1st block. Problem  #2: I was the person doing the walking/running/jogging, normally a student or two are the ones doing the running/walking/jogging (I'm no spring chicken anymore). Problem #3: I was wearing my most comfortable shoes, which also happen to be the worst shoes in which to run. Note to self: either wear your running shoes, or wear a helmet next time!

Trials 1-4: I walked, I jogged, I walked really slow, I walked backwards (negative velocity). Everything was fine. Trial 5: I decided to move at a variable velocity by starting at a walk, increasing to a run, then slowing back to a walk. And then it happened: I ran out of room when I got to the part where I should have been slowing to a walk. I put the brakes on and started to stumble. I had no more breaks, lost all control, and fell. My only thought was, "Hmmmm, there's the greenhouse (made of metal and glass) right in front of me. I'm going to go straight through the glass. This is going to be really bad." I went down and negatively accelerated my head in a very short amount of time, thereby splitting the back of my ear open. I immediately said a few words, which were hopefully not heard by my students, and  got up to sit on the bench in front of the greenhouse. I realized later this was the same bench that just a second ago was in contact with my ribs. I put my hand to the side of my head and thought, "Okay, this isn't that bad. But boy does this hurt!"

I looked up at my students and said, "Why don't we just skip Trial 6?" I looked down at my hand, upon removing it from the side of my head and realized I might have a couple of small cuts there, since I noticed some blood, but not an enormous amount. No problem. "Could someone get me some tissue?" Strangely enough, only one or two students were actually moving. (I think they were stunned that I was that clumsy.) Tissue arrives.

We returned to the classroom, I got them started entering their data into the excel spreadsheet. Standard operating procedure for this activity. I walked over to the stunned look of my department head and asked would he mind keeping an eye on my class while I walked to the nurse to get a band-aid on these little cuts on my ear. Of course, that was after an abbreviated description of what had just transpired. I look in on my students and said, "I'll be back in a little bit. Mr. Stark is across the hall if you need someone."

I proceed to the nurse's office, all the while noticing there is now a considerable amount of blood on my tissue. Concern begins to set in. I arrived, again to the stunned look of the school nurse. I explain. She says, "Let me see!" I remove my hand and she informs me that I have a "gaping hole back here". I immediately go into shock. I begin to sweat. The color, all of the color, leaves my face. I don't feel so well. I lay down. She recommends that I go to an after hours clinic. Then, upon further inspection and a pupil exam, she thinks I may need to go to the emergency room. I really begin to panic a bit. I show panic by the above listed symptoms. My symptoms increase, which does nothing to alleviate my panic (or my symptoms).

Michelle (my wonderful and amazing wife) decides to come take me when the word ER is mentioned. Initially, Jessica (my exceptional daughter) was going to drive me. We decide against that. I talk the nurse. It is worth mentioning that Michelle is on pain killers for some dental work which she had done yesterday. She may be over the legal limit as far as narcotics and driving goes. We're not really sure and frankly don't want to know.

By this point, I have talked the nurse out of calling an ambulance. She rolls me out to the student pick-up area in the wheelchair. My symptoms begin to resurface as they had subsided after laying down for a bit. I feel worse. I really begin to feel terrible. I tell my caretakers, the nurse and Teri Voss (an asst. principal) that, "I'm just going lay down here on the ground". In front of the school. On the concrete. Is that weird? As I begin to get to the ground (on all fours) Michelle rounds the corner to pick me up. I'm sure her first thought upon seeing my condition, head wrapped bandage and all, was "Oh Lord! He's practically dying. I'm just in time to say goodbye!"

To make a long story (somewhat) short, we get to the hospital. The doctor reassures me that I do not have a nasty head trauma and that I will be fine. I just need, oh about 15 stitches. Yes. From the top of my ear to the bottom, I am stitched. My ER experience was quite jovial, once I realized I wasn't going to die or forget who Michelle is (at least not anytime soon). I twittered while there. I even twitpic'ed.

The doctor and nurses were very understanding and made my time almost enjoyable. It takes an amazing person to do their job. Next time you talk to a doctor or a nurse, thank them for me. After all, someone has to pick up the pieces after we are done doing dangerous science!

Update: Breaking Video!

I was able to get some video of my accident. Enjoy!

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