It is science fair season and it seems that every student in every grade in every elementary school has an entry.
The lesson plan indicated the time to take the 4th graders to
tour the science fair exhibits set up in the cafeteria. At the appointed time,
I escorted the group over as instructed. I lead them up and down each isle so they
could view the dozens and dozens of demonstrations of "science".
We had Solar System models constructed of Styrofoam, sticks and glue,
the potato or lemon powered lamps, the flower sucking colored water
demonstrations, tornado in a bottle, volcano models and....Something new I did not recognize. The exhibit indicated it was a model of
something called a "Gaussian Gun".
Two wooden dowels glued together to make a track, magnets spaced and glued
at three intervals and some steel marbles mounted along the track between the
magnets. Like me, the kids were curious about what it was and how it worked.
Curious, I picked up one of the marbles to see how heavy it was and put it back
on the rail. Before I could react fast enough, the marble rolled and
accelerated down the track, hit the first magnet and before I knew what was
happening, a chain reaction of steel marbles and magnets shot the last marble
off the end and hit one of the boys in the leg!
Thankfully, the boy was unhurt but...really?
That thing is downright dangerous!