Shoot-out in Northfield

July 14th, 2008 by Peter Schmelzer

Todd Thompson and Peter Schmelzer at the Shoot-out

We met at noon under the hot sun in Northfield.

Each carried his weapon, ready to fire at the touch of the trigger.

The gauntlet had been dropped.

Now it was time for the shoot-out.

One man would emerge victorious.

And some students would learn something.

Todd Thompson, wearing his science teacher hat this time, and I, wearing my sunglasses, squared off last month. The primary goal: to teach kids about ballistics, trajectory, pressurized gases, and construction of cannons. Secondary goals included celebrating the start of May Term, to have some fun, and to answer this question: whose potato cannon was more powerful. No ego attached (honest, although Todd’s may have been damaged…)

Todd was sporting his hair-spray fueled gun; I wielded my air-compressor-powered cannon.

As it turned out, I was victorious! My first shot at 80psi went much higher than Todd’s. By dialing down the pressure, we figured out that his cannon produces about 50psi of explosive, potato-flinging force. He had me beat on portability, since he didn’t need an electrical outlet, but power was no contest.

A good time was had by all. I regret having to humiliate Todd in front of his students, but I’m mostly over it now.

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