The power of air


It surrounds everybody but can’t be seen.

It can knock a cup off a person’s head — with a little help from a cannon — and it can lift a teenager up off the ground with a leaf blower and boards.

On Thursday, it was a tool of education for National Lutheran Schools Week events conducted at Trinity Lutheran High School.

Thirty-year entertainer and educator Thomas Johnson with Mobile Ed Productions taught the youth in attendance about the power of air.

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“Air: The Invisible Wonder” wasn’t a typical science demonstration.

“The show with air power just plays well for every age,” Johnson said. “It can entertain kindergartners or seniors, and there is something to learn for every grade level.”

Thursday’s show focused on air pressure, which is the force produced by air, and physics to educate students while entertaining them at the same time.

Johnson used a vortex of air pressure created from an air cannon to knock cups off of students’ heads, a vacuum to seal a student in plastic, a leaf blower to create a hoverboard and other demonstrations.

“I’ve seen the demonstration of the air cannon on TV but never live,” Trinity science teacher Justin Vorthmann said. “It was entertaining, and it showed the power of air.”

Senior Tanner Prewitt said he took something away from the demonstration.

“You don’t think that air can do all of those things,” Prewitt said. “I liked the air cannon with the fog the best.”

To many of the students, the demonstration of the power of an unseen force in their life, such as air, relates easily to their life as Lutherans.

“It shows God’s creation and how He works through the world,” eighth-grader Libby Wischmeier said.

Thursday’s activities at Trinity included the Mobile Ed Productions educational assembly, two stations for science experiments, one for art, one for music, another to create bird houses and a final station for community work. A religious message was delivered by the Rev. Matt Jung.

The theme of this year’s National Lutheran Schools Week was “Connected.”

“We hope that the students learn that we are not isolated. We are connected even though we are separate schools. We are still together through Christ,” said Michelle Bauman, the recruiting director and English teacher at Trinity.

The idea of being connected through their faith is one that the students echoed.

“It’s always something to see all of these schools come together in one place,” said Prewitt, who has attended and helped with the program in previous years.

“It’s an opportunity to express your faith and be yourself without people judging you,” Libby said.

The students also said they learned a lot from Johnson’s demonstrations and enjoyed learning about all of the different aspects of air that they had never considered.

“I think he did a great job of engaging audiences from both scientific and entertainment angles,” Vorthmann said.

After the show at Trinity, Johnson gave the same demonstration at Immanuel Lutheran School in Seymour.

Johnson said his program has evolved into something much different than when he first learned how to entertain people.

That was at the International School of Mimodrame of Paris Marcel Marceau, where he initially studied how to become a mime.

Johnson started with only a few routines for his show.

“I would have students write stories, and I would read over them and go to classes and talk with them about writing, then I would mime out the stories for an assembly,” Johnson said.

Johnson said eventually the economy took a downturn and the educators with Mobile Ed Productions were required to write and teach more than one show.

That’s when he started writing and implementing several more shows — teaching history as Thomas Edison, an anti-bullying lesson using a game show theme and the current show on science and air power.

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