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Shaler students get hands-on lesson in speeding from school resource officer

| Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Officer Frank Spiker, left, Josh Chechak, Jadon Zelepos, and Tyler Weseky, far right,  time the cars traveling on Mt. Royal Boulevard and then calculate the speed of the vehicles.
Officer Frank Spiker, left, Josh Chechak, Jadon Zelepos, and Tyler Weseky, far right, time the cars traveling on Mt. Royal Boulevard and then calculate the speed of the vehicles.

Combining safety and science, students at Shaler Area Middle School got a lesson in speed from school resource officer Frank Spiker.

Students in Sondra Jodkin's and Sarah Neaves' eighth-grade physical science classes worked with Spiker, a Shaler Township policeman, to run a mock speed trap on Mt. Royal Boulevard in front of the school.

The goal was to give the kids a real-world application for calculating speed as distance divided by time, Jodkin said.

“The kids wonder how this applies to life,” Jodkin said. “We want them to see some aspect of this will apply to their lives and hopefully they'll have a greater appreciation of why we're teaching the things we're teaching.”

Using two traffic cones set a distance apart and a Robic stopwatch, students timed cars as they passed between the cones. The watch automatically calculated speed, but it was the students' jobs to double-check the math using what they'd learned in class.

Some classes watched the road from a classroom at the front of the building while others went outside for the project.

“It spices up class with a hands-on experience,” said eighth grader Wysdom Vinski. “I like hands-on better than pencil and paper.”

Spiker also provided information about Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, which permits police to run speed traps and provides guidelines in their use. He also shared photos of car accidents caused by speeding, Jodkin said.

Students also wrote their own “citations,” calculating the person's fine based on how many miles per hour over the speed limit they were.

“Officer Spiker said it should only take seven minutes to walk back to the car and write up the citation,” eighth-grader Ashley Steinmetz said. “It took us like 30 minutes.”

This is the second year the eighth-graders have worked with Spiker at the end of their unit on speed. Jodkin said they try to do a project at the end of each unit that applies to what they learned in class.

Rachel Farkas is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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