Physics teacher defies the laws of gravity

Hahnville High Clarence Borne takes weightless flight for science

Heather R. Breaux
September 06, 2007 at 11:33 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Physics teacher defies the laws of gravity
Photo provided by Northrop Grumman
For most, the thought of randomly bouncing around free from the constraints of the gravitational pull is a concept that’s a hard to swallow, but for Hahnville High School physics teacher Clarence Borne, defying gravity is all in a day’s work.

Borne, along with 30 other educators from around the region, participated in Northrop Grumman’s Weightless Flights of Discovery - an educational training program developed to provide teachers with first-hand knowledge and experience in the application of math, science and engineering principles - all while aboard an aircraft that mocks a low-gravity setting in a similar manner to how astronauts train for space flights.

Borne told the Herald-Guide that he was thrilled when asked by school administrators if he wanted to participate in the event and admitted that he just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

“I’ve been a physics teacher at Hahnville High for nearly 27 years and this is the first time I’ve been able to experience a “zero-gravity” simulation like this,” Borne said.

“I teach a lot about gravity and weightless conditions in my classes, but now I can tell my students first hand was it feels like to be almost completely weightless,” he continued.

On Aug. 30, Borne met with fellow teachers in a sea of navy blue flight suits at a pre-flight mission briefing at 7:30 a.m and the first microgravity flight left the Louis Armstrong International Airport runway at 9 a.m.

“There were 15 separate events that the teachers could take part in and each event lasted about 25 to 30 seconds,” said Borne.

But that’s not all. When asked was it was like to float around in the air, Borne says that it was one of the most unique things he has ever experienced.

“Being on the flight was truly amazing,” Borne said after commenting on how the slightest touch would send him floating from one side of the aircraft to the other in a matter of seconds.

According to a Northrop Grumman spokesperson, before Borne was able to board the flight, he was required to attend various workshops that taught the educators about the physics of weightlessness, what to expect on the flight and to help design experiments that would be executed during the flight.

Aboard the aricraft, the teachers acted out experiments like flying through hula hoops and bouncing off one another.

Borne also says that Northrop Grumman and their partner in the project, Zero Gravity Corporation, will provide all particpants with a video of their flight that can be used a a teaching tool in the classroom.

“The United States has fallen behind globally in the areas of science and technology,” said Sandra Evers-Manly, president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation.

“Therefore our program is designed to encourage students to pursue science and technical careers by inspiring their teachers first so that every engineer, scientist and technically trained person in our nation can look back and identify a teacher who played a significant role in his or her decision to pursue a technical career,” she continued.

After the teachers landed and the fun flight ended, they gathered at a nearby hotel for - you guessed it - a “regravitation party.”


Questions? Comments? Story Ideas? Email Lifestyles Editor Heather R. Breaux at

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