October 21, 1986
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.
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
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."