Our Physics students reached new heights of learning both during and after a recent visit to iFly, an indoor skydiving facility in Yonkers, New York.
“It was a great experience. You are in the tunnel for about a minute and go as high as 50 feet,” said Cameron Folli ’23. “You had to fall into it to let the air catch you and then keep your hands above your head, almost like you are doing the YMCA dance. I would do it again, 100 percent!”
Science Teacher Rodrigo Avila Hernandez was looking for a real-world application of what he was covering in class, and iFly proved to be an ideal fit. “Part of our Physics class is a unit on freefall, so this was a great opening project for that,” he said. When students arrived, they viewed a brief slideshow on what to expect, then were split into two groups. About half the students went to a separate room to discuss the physics of the activity and determine their personal terminal velocity based on height and weight. The others headed straight to iFly’s innovative recirculating wind tunnel to suit up.
“Before we went in, it looked like a steep drop down under the catch net,” recalled Patrick Kane ’23. “But when you were in there, you forgot about it. I’m normally scared of heights, but this was enjoyable.
Beyond the fun factor, students were able to relate the experience to their Physics studies. “You do not necessarily feel the amount of pressure you are under while in the chamber,” Cam said. “When you watch from the outside, however, you can see how they are projected and how fast they are moving. You can definitely make comparisons with what we learned in the classroom.”
Patrick agreed. “I learned how important drag is and how small movements can create a big change in results,” he explained. “They were very particular about hand positioning and leg movement. We had to be still and relaxed. Discovering how the terminal velocity equation can be determined without actually falling was cool.”
Rodrigo is looking forward to discussing those concepts further in class with his students. “Once we complete the freefall unit, we will also look at projectile motion and how that is affected by the things we went over at iFly.” After such a dynamic hands-on learning experience, the sky’s the limit.