Slicing into Science

Two boys drawing sections in science.
There's more to a coffee cup than what meets the eye.


When two particles interact, their mutual cross section is the area transverse to their relative motion within which they must meet in order to scatter from each other. If the particles are hard spheres that interact only upon contact, their scattering cross section is related to their geometric size.

And so begins a typical STEM class at STA with a slant toward physics.

Adding dimension (four, actually) to Mrs. Diana Finan’s STEM class today was STA’s Professor Emeritus, Mr. Charlie Prince. Freshmen Saints are learning about hydrologic cycles in pursuit of understanding all water and proper management of water resources. Eventually, our Saints will be looking at water delineation and runoff issues here on the St. Thomas Aquinas High School campus. Because part of their education will require small scale drawings of the watershed project, Physics educator Mr. Prince stepped in to demonstrate the value of sectioning objects and drawing them with precision.

Given a simple paper coffee cup, students were tasked with drawing the object in full scale. With careful measurements and attention to the cutting plane, they compared their sectional views with the right-side views, emphasizing the advantage in clearness of the former. 

Whether preparing an object for electron microscopy, sectioning cometary particles or simply changing one’s perspective, sectioning is a valuable tool. Today, our Saints received an up-close view of this that added an entirely new dimension to their learning.