The Renaissance Physicist

Come on friction! Hold on tight! Through the turn, you’re gonna make it!” Student Teacher and Assistant Varsity Lacrosse Coach Paul Coleman recalls his most cherished physics-related experience with a touch of nostalgia.

Accelerating through a turn in his gold Acura Legend in the early 2000’s, Coleman applied a now familiar lesson he had learned earlier that day.

“I was in high school physics; we had just gone over friction and acceleration into turns,” he said. “I remember sitting in my car and [seeing] a paper

Marianna McMurdock | Photo Editor
Marianna McMurdock | Photo Editor

on my dashboard.”

Though the days of willing friction may be gone, Coleman’s spirit and drive for physics are not.

After graduating as a four year varsity lacrosse veteran in 2004 from Poway High, Coleman went on to attain a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Exercising his talents outside of the classroom, he played midfield for the UCSB men’s lacrosse team while tackling a rigorous UC course load.

Though his major was philosophy, he furthered his interest in the most applicable of sciences by making physics his minor.

“I knew that I loved it going into college and held strong through it,” Coleman said. “The class that solidified [my interest] would be my last lower division class, Physics 5, which covered quantum mechanics and relativity.”

In a study abroad program for UCSB, Coleman stayed in Spain for a full year to gain first-hand experience in education.

“I was able to teach two Spainards English- that was really great. I taught one primarily on basic grammar and the other I taught conversational English,” he said. “I also helped translate a paper into English that she had written to be published in a journal on the practice and implications of the social gatherings called ‘botellon.’”

While many students opt for more the more celebrated European countries in their studies abroad, Coleman explains that he felt an opportunity in Spain that was not as present in other nations.

“In much of Europe, English is spoken by many people at a strong level.  Spain, however, has still yet to make significant progress in this area,” Coleman said. “Being able to speak English was a great asset and I wanted to be able to help people who [had a desire] to learn the language.”

He attributes his Spanish speaking abilities to time in Spain and utilizes the skills from his studies abroad daily.

“Specifically, for MC, I rely on [Spanish] every day in my ELD class offering clarifying instructions for students who speak Spanish,” he said.

But being somewhat of a renaissance man, he maintains his passion for science in accordance with his teaching.

“I chose physics because I saw things applied immediately to the outside world,” Coleman said. “That’s why I stuck with it.”

And the memorable paper on the dashboard of his gold Acura held on with him.

“Oh it made it, I was so psyched!”

Written by Marianna McMurdock

Self-described as an "ardent archivist", Marianna is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Sun. When she is not despairing over her beloved television characters (Underwood and Holmes represent) she enjoys listening to movie scores, Andrew Bird, and Beyonce. She also serves the Sun as Photo Editor, and has been a self-taught photographer for four years. Her personal work is available at

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