Majka_CatherineThis year, physics teacher Cate Majka puts on her lab coat to begin her 28th year of teaching at Saint Viator High School, and it promises to be fun.

Think labs and hands-on learning, both inside and outside of the physics lab.

Over the years, Mrs. Majka has seen many changes in the school and taught different courses, including integrated science as well as the variety of honors and AP physics classes. But this much she knows: She comes back each year because her students are excited to learn.

Cate Majka with students after the WYSE competition last year.

Cate Majka with students after the WYSE competition last year.

“We have wonderful kids who are kind, considerate, generous and eager to do well,” Majka says. “They keep me young.”

Her labs are definitely for the young at heart. Some of her more memorable ones take students out onto the football field for orienteering, using walking vectors, as well as for projectile labs.

One of her favorite trips is taking physics students to Physics Day at Six Flags Great America, where its carnival rides transform into an outdoor learning lab to study the difference between velocity and acceleration.

Cate Majka with Class of 2017 alumni and former honors physics students, Aria Bernardi, Luke Koehler, Charlie Trunk and Charlotte Aichele.

Cate Majka with Class of 2017 alumni and former honors physics students, Aria Bernardi, Luke Koehler, Charlie Trunk and Charlotte Aichele.

Hands-on learning drives her classes, consequently, Majka is as comfortable demonstrating electrical circuits as she is around airplanes, teaching students about riveting and their role in aircraft design.

In July, she returned from taking junior and senior Querbes Scholars on a trip to Oshkosh to its world famous air show. Once again, it was more than a sightseeing trip. Students rolled up their sleeves and helped in the KidVenture area, which offers hands-on activities and learning opportunities to young, aspiring pilots.

Which is exactly the type of learning that Majka delivers in her classroom each year, hands-on labs and learning opportunities.

“To me everything is physics,” Majka says, “so I try to give real world applications and practical labs.”