After school at nearby Ridge Elementary School on April 3, students, teachers and volunteers in an academic mentoring program called Future Leaders of the World (FLOW) fling paper cups across the cafeteria using rubber bands with help from the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) Physics Club.
Rather than unsupervised mischief, the activity is part of the physics club’s demonstration of the Magnus effect— the impact of a rapidly spinning object on the air around it which causes the object to swerve when thrown or launched with “spin.” The SMCM Physics club visits FLOW students one to two times a semester, bringing interactive demonstrations of physics concepts to enhance students’ enthusiasm for academics.
When asked about the importance of their visits to FLOW students, Physics Club President Noah Walsh said in an email, “I think it’s important to maintain this kind of outreach to local schools because long-term mentoring is an incredible type of service, and it can make a significant impact in students [sic] lives at a time when they’re having trouble in school. It can really brighten their day, get them excited about learning, and the benefits go a long way in improving the local community.”
Fourth grader Quenelle Thompson said that his favorite part about the physics club demonstration was “Launching my cup.” When asked what he had learned he replied “That anything can fly.”
The physics club’s visits to the FLOW after school program at Ridge Elementary began in Spring 2017 as a way to fulfill the club’s service requirement.
The FLOW program operates in St. Mary’s County Public Schools. Their mission is to foster “positive mentoring relationships between students in St. Mary’s County Public Schools and members of the community and to provide supported, safe, and inspiring environments in which these matches can cultivate the potential of each youth.”
Each mentor is matched with a student and the pair spends an afternoon together each week during the FLOW program.
If you’re interested in serving as a mentor with FLOW, email Lauren Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.