Holy Trinity physics teacher utilizes drones donated by Harris


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Holy Trinity student Chris Farid, left, operates a drone during an AP Physics Mechanics class taught by Trevor Herntier. The drone is one of five donated to the school by the Harris Corporation.

photo by Carl Kotala

Holy Trinity students Emilio Roig and Eric Jaffe are simply trying to play a simple game of catch …

And it’s not going well.

That’s because the students are throwing a volleyball back and forth while sitting on a homemade Vomitron built by physics teacher Trevor Herntier, which spins them around in a circle and makes the ball curve in midair, thereby making a game of catch a rough proposition.

But is the ball really curving?

Flying above the students is a drone, piloted by Holy Trinity student Chris Farid. It’s one of five drones donated to the school by the Harris Corporation this fall and with its onboard camera, it will give Herntier a chance to teach his students things he couldn’t do otherwise.

“I can have a Go-Pro strapped to their chest, so we can see what it looks like from a rider on the Vomitron and that ball looks like it curves,” Herntier said. “But it doesn’t.

“Until I had the drones, there was no way I could prove to them that the ball doesn’t curve. When you film from above like that, I can trace the ball on a video and I can say, ‘Look, the dots are in a straight line.’ It’s a really startling video.”

Holy Trinity student Emilio Rigo, left, plays catch with Eric Jaffe on a Vomitron built by physics teacher Trevor Herntier. To the naked eye, the ball appears to curve in midair, but with help of a drone — one of five drones donated by the Harris Corporation — students can see the ball is actually going straight. | PHOTO BY CARL KOTALA​Herntier, who has been at the school for five years and teaches five sections of physics, will get a better idea of how many different ways he can use the drones (and their payload delivery systems) once he has a chance to work with them during the summer.

But they will definitely be game changers.

Holy Trinity senior Claire Layton said she enjoys Herntier’s AP Physics Mechanics class and signed up for it after taking Honors Physics as a junior.

“He makes it a lot of fun and if you’re confused on something, he’ll explain it in interesting ways,” she said.

Roig, a senior who is thinking about majoring in bio medical engineering, said the class is an extension of what he took last year.

“This year, it’s more in depth with the things that we learn,” he said.

Because the drones can have so many uses, Herntier believes they can benefit the entire campus once other teachers learn how to use them.

For instance, the football team can use them to film practices, which would enhance film study.

And guess what was used to take this year’s senior class photo for the yearbook? Yep. Look at the drone and say, “Cheese.”

No wonder Herntier feels like the proverbial kid in a candy store.

“I’m so happy that Harris gave us the opportunity for that,” he said. “I can do things that I couldn’t otherwise do. And drones are going to be a huge part of the future, so these kids get a chance to learn how to fly these things. It’s fantastic.

“My ultimate goal is that these kids take more (advanced) physics (classes) past me. To me, the more kids I can get interested in this class, the better.”