But in terms of potential self-sacrifice—not to mention shock value—nothing in Riehle’s educational arsenal exceeds his approach to teaching impulse and momentum. Each year he lies on a 2-by-3-foot bed of nails, places a 25-pound concrete block on a piece of plywood on his chest and then enlists another faculty member to break the block with a sledgehammer. It’s a bit uncomfortable, he says, but the nails aren’t a perfect point, and there are enough of them concentrated in a small area that they don’t break the skin.
Riehle’s creative approach earned him teacher-of-the-year honors among Cincinnati math and science teachers this year, but he credits three of his professors at the University—John Hart, Terry Toepker and Ray Miller—with inspiring his energetic style. “Their enthusiasm was contagious,” he says. “And I realized that as a teacher, that’s what grabs kids’ interest.”