A Canadian mechanical engineering professor based in South Carolina is making headlines for a creative lesson he taught to a fluid mechanics class.
Prof. Ethan Kung brought a carpenter bee on a leash to his classroom at Clemson University last Thursday to illustrate the momentum balance equation.
Why use a bee?
“In order for this bee to float it has to overcome its own weight,” Kung explained. “The momentum of the air that the bee is pushing down with its wings, the bee has to apply a force. This force that the bee is applying to the air, there’s a reaction force towards the bee and that’s the force that’s holding it up.”
Kung told Global News that a hive of carpenter bees had been drilling holes into his house and that he and his wife were trying to get rid of them. His sister-in-law had shown him how to sedate a bee by placing it in a freezer for a few minutes, so he decided to tie a string around it and use one of pesky bees as a teaching tool.
The Vancouver-raised professor stunned students as they recorded and laughed incredulously at him.
“The whole class just stared at the professor like he was a lunatic,” student Brad Westbury told the Daily Mail.
“He walked it [the bee] around the room letting it land on desks and people while explaining how he caught it and how he was going to feed it to his pet spider at home.”
Kung said he doesn’t really have a pet spider, but he did place the bee on a spider’s web.
“I could just kill the bee, and that would be kind of a waste. So if a spider could eat him that would be kind of more useful,” said Kung, adding that either way the bee would have died as a part of pest control.
As for the lesson on the momentum balance equation, Kung hopes the memorable demonstration helped his students understand the concept.