Denfeld News

October 21, 1986
Duluth News Tribune & Herald

Denfeld physics students steer new course on Victory Chimes
By Linda Hanson

For most people, the three-masted schooner Victory Chimes brings to mind romantic visions of life at sea -- not physics.

But for 100 Denfeld High School students, the 86-year-old ship was their physics classroom for two hours Monday.

"Physics is not just in a book," said Denfeld physics teacher Ed Felien. "Physics is in everything you do. We try to illustrate that whenever we can."

As part of their physics classwork, students learn how to navigate with a compass, said Polly Hanson, a student teacher who arranged the field trip. Hanson, 21, is a senior at the College of St. Scholastica.

For example, the students must learn how to calculate how wind and currents affect the course of a ship, Hanson said.

Hanson thought it would be good for students to see firsthand how navigation works.

"In class, we're working on vectors -- those are directions on a compass," said Tim Sisto, 17, a senior.

"If you're off on your vectors, you're lost," added Mike Vukonich, 17, a senior.

There were no formal lessons on the ship, but students were encouraged to ask the crew questions.

Debbie Shepard, 16, said she learned three nautical superstitions from a crew member.

"Never whistle on a ship. That's because they used to do commands by whistles and it would be confusing if someone was whistling," she said. "Also, women are bad luck and they don't belong on a ship. And never change the name of a ship."

Debbie said a crew member explained that the ship used to be called the Edwin and Maud, but the name was changed to the Victory Chimes after World War II.

The ship's two auxiliary engines, which are used for raising the sails and anchors, were named Edwin and Maud because of the superstition, she said.

Several students gathered in the captain's quarters to hear a crew member explain the workings of the ship's computerized navigational system called Loran C. The sailor explained how the system uses radio signals to determine the ship's position.

"The signals form a hyperbola," he said.

"That sounds like calculus," one student moaned. "I hate calculus."

This was the first trip on the Victory Chimes for most of the students, but it was the last outing of the season for the schooner and crew. The ship will spend the winter in the Minnesota Slip and will re-enter service next spring, said Capt. Sandy Clark.

While the ship made its final loop around the Duluth harbor in the balmy October air, not everyone's mind was on physics. Some students visited with friends, while others talked about what it would be like to go for a long voyage on the Victory Chimes.

Danice Klimek, 15, leaned back on the rail and smiled, the sun glinting off her purple sunglasses.

"I'd love it," she said about going on a long voyage. "It'd be just me and nature."

Pat Smith, 17, thought a long trip would get old fast because you'd be cooped up with the same people for too long.

Danice said, "If I got riled up, I'd just go out and look at the stars. That always calms me down."

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