This lesson is motivated by an article by Paul G. Hewitt entitled “Sailing into the Wind: A Vector Explanation”, appearing in the Summer 2017 edition of NSTA’s The Science Teacher. Why not put a sail on a Teacher Geek® cart powered by wind from a fan and confined to move along a track?
In addition to being a fascinating toy, the ZéCar flywheel powered car can be utilized in physics curricula to study conservation of energy. It is available from a variety of sources, including teachersource.com for under $14. In this lesson students study energy conservation, including gravitational potential energy, translational kinetic energy, rotational kinetic energy, and work done against non-conservative frictional forces, with emphasis on comparing ZéCar with the PocketLab Teacher Geek
In addition to being a fun toy, the “Slinky” is commonly used in physics classes to qualitatively investigate a variety of wave properties: longitudinal versus transverse traveling waves, superposition of waves, wave reflection from a solid barrier or a free end, and standing waves and resonance. Many of these investigations work well when the Slinky is stretched out on the surface of a floor. However, to do a quantitative study of standing waves and resonance, suspending the stretched Slinky from the ceiling offers the advantages of less fricti
With the current growth in interest in flywheels, stemming from concern for the environmental impact of fossil fuel use, flywheels provide a convenient way for storing energy. Because of this, the study of flywheels in the physics curriculum is well worth consideration by teachers. Such a study allows for a careful examination of the principles of conservation of energy, as well as both linear and rotational kinematics. PocketLab Voyager’s ability to collect angular velocity data makes data collection much easier than was required in similar past experiments wit
Carts constructed with the LEGO® Simple & Powered Machines Set are great for studying motion kinematics, as the resultant motion is fairly smooth, resulting in less noisy data. While you can use the range finder and PocketLab app, it has been found by the author that using Voyager and the VelocityLab app is less noisy as well. The problem that one immediately confronts when considering this approach, however, is that both the small wheels and the large wheels in the LEGO® set are too small for attaching Voyager.
A pendulum is held vertically and is then released, impacting a cart that is initially at rest. This experiment provides students with a lesson for comparing theory with actual experimental results and explaining any differences. A variety of physics principles, including conservation of energy, conservation of momentum, and impulse, are incorporated into the experiment. VelocityLab is used to determine the actual speed of the cart after the impact, and the students compare this to speed predictions based upon theory. In addition, students use impulse concepts to calc
Students study the Atwood machine to verify Newton’s Second Law of Motion. In this machine, two hanging masses are tied to the end of a string that loops around a pulley. The larger mass then moves downward with a constant acceleration, while the smaller mass accelerates upward. The magnitude of this acceleration is a quantity of great interest as it relates to the values of the two masses. In this lesson, an Atwood machine is constructed using parts from LEGO®’s Simple & Powered Machines Set
A novel activity that demonstrates one of the effects of a microgravity environment. In this exercise, the structure of a flame is filmed while simultaneously plotting the acceleration of the system as it is released and experiences freefall. The apparatus is low-cost, possibly using only scrap materials found in the classroom. A PocketLab One is paired with a smartphone and used to collect the data. Conceptually, the exercise is straightforward, though considering noise in the data, limits of the system, and chemistry applications could easily enrich the content.
PocketLab sensors can measure the pressure in a fluid line easily, by putting the PocketLab into a plastic wash bottle. (For protection, put the sensor in a ziplock bag with a paper towel.) The wash bottle nozzle inserts easily into 1/4" ID tubing, and can be used as a pressure tap to measure fluid pressure in two different T junctions.