Class presents hovercraft

ENGINEERING STUDENTS AIM HIGH

After 12 weeks of working -- through holidays and snow days -- engineering students at A.R. Johnson Health Sciences and Engineering Magnet School showed off their handcrafted hovercraft Monday.

These weren't models. They flew.

Students, parents, faculty and staff crowded into the school's gym for demonstrations of three hovercraft made by groups of eight students from the junior Engineering Concepts class.

"This is the labor of love after 12 weeks," said Sandra Johnson, who teaches the Engineering Concepts class. "I am so proud of them," she said.

Each craft, held together by duct tape, had a deck made of plywood with a black tarp attached to the bottom as the air cushion. Industrial fans were used on the back to propel the vessels while leaf blowers were used to fill the cushion underneath.

"All of the air goes from the lowers to the middle and pushes everything up and little bits of air escape out the side, and so that is what makes it float," Tariq Cannonier said.

George Brown, a grandparent, said he and his family enjoyed watching how much fun their student, George "Freddy" Brown III, had putting the project together.

"I love the enthusiasm," he said. "It is infectious. And as long as they are learning, what more can you ask for?"

Johnson said building the hovercraft was easy for many of her students because they are "natural builders" and "love to use their hands."

The students worked through their Christmas break, Martin Luther King Day, snow days and after school to finish the project.

Junior-year builders Cannonier, Warren Stevens, John Burford and Michael Badke all said they were proud to present their projects to their peers.

"Whenever you think of A.R. Johnson, you think of health sciences," Cannonier said. "... So it's about time engineering got to shine."


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