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High School Physics

Prepare your students for real-world problem solving and open-ended lab experiments. Experienced educators and curriculum specialists have developed each of these lessons, and we have tested them in real classrooms. PocketLab physics lessons cover introductory and advanced topics from one-dimensional motion to electricity and magnetism to simple harmonic motion. Browse all the high school and AP-level physics lessons below or use the filters to search for specific content.

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intelino / Voyager Lab: Stopping Distance vs. Speed

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Submitted by Rich on Tue, 08/20/2019 - 00:42

Introduction

Have you ever been told not to follow too close to the driver ahead of you?  To keep a safe distance?  To abide by the "3-second rule"?  To keep a distance of at least one car length for every ten miles per hour of speed?  These questions all deal with the issue of stopping distance versus speed in order to avoid crashes.  A great way to investigate the relationship between stopping distance and speed is to interface Voyager with an "intelino® smart train".   Designed for all ages, intelino is intuitive with its app, has bui

intelino / PocketLab: Velocity vs. Impulse to Stop

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Submitted by Rich on Sat, 08/17/2019 - 15:34

Introduction

While driving at 40 mph, you see a red stop light ahead.  You press your brakes for several seconds, gradually coming to a stop.  A little later on the same road at 40 mph, you approach another light, this time green.  While approaching this light, it suddenly changes to yellow.  You make a split-second decision to put on your brakes to avoid going through a red light.  With the brakes applied quite hard, you quickly stop, waking up your sleeping friend in the front passenger seat.

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intelino/PocketLab: Impulse & Change in Momentum

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Submitted by Rich on Sun, 08/11/2019 - 20:59

Introduction

This lesson features Voyager and the "intelino® smart train" in a lab for AP physics students.  Designed for all ages, intelino is intuitive with its app, has built-in sensors to provide an interactive experience for the user, and is easily programmed with color snaps that allow the user to control intelino's actions.  Students are challenged to design and carry out an experiment to show that impulse is equal to change in momentum when Voyager is mounted to an intelino smart engine that suddenly reverses itself.

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Damped Simple Harmonic Motion

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Submitted by Rich on Sun, 07/07/2019 - 19:47

Introduction

Damping causes oscillatory systems to dissipate energy to their surroundings.  Frictional losses are quite common in mechanical systems and result in damped simple harmonic motion.  For example, when a child stops pumping a swing, the amplitude of the oscillations gradually decay toward zero.  The same thing happens to a mass that hangs from an oscillating spring.  It is quite common for the amplitude of such oscillations to exhibit a behavior that is negative exp

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The Negative Exponential Nature of Damping

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Submitted by Rich on Mon, 06/24/2019 - 20:50

Introduction

Damping causes oscillatory systems to dissipate energy to their surroundings.  Frictional losses are quite common in mechanical systems.  For example, when a child stops pumping a swing, the amplitude of the oscillations gradually decay toward zero.  The same thing happens to a mass that hangs from an oscillating spring.  It is quite common for the amplitude of such oscillations to exhibit a behavior that is negative exponential over time, as shown in Figure 1.  The graph indicates that if we take the amplitude at time t=0 to be 1, then the amplitude at time

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Resonance and Damped Harmonic Motion

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Submitted by Rich on Thu, 06/20/2019 - 02:47

Introduction

Resonance can be defined in a number of ways.  The most common definition is that resonance occurs at the frequency at which forced oscillations produce maximum amplitude.  When the driving forces of oscillation are removed, friction gradually decreases the amplitude.  This is known as damped harmonic motion.  Most young children experience resonance as well as damped harmonic motion in schoolyard playgrounds.  They experience resonance while pumping the swing at the right frequency--the natural frequency of the swing.  They experience dampe

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Periodic Motion: Weights vs. Springs

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Submitted by Rich on Thu, 06/13/2019 - 16:54

Introduction

In a well-known 1938 book entitled "Demonstration Experiments in Physics", editor Richard Sutton describes a setup for producing periodic motion of a cart using weights instead of springs.  With today's technology this experiment can be done using an air disk, and data can be collected with PocketLab Voyager's rangefinder.  The data clearly shows that not all periodic motions are simple harmonic.  The restoring force when weights are used is constant, while the restoring force with springs is proportional to the displacement.  Springs produce simple harmonic

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Momentum Pendulum Rides the PocketLab HotRod

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Submitted by Rich on Sun, 05/26/2019 - 23:36

The Momentum Pendulum

The momentum pendulum is shown in Figure 1.  A frame (red) to hold the pendulum was printed on a 3D printer.  The STL file in included with this lesson.  The frame is solidly attached to the PocketLab HotRod with three damage-free hanging strips.  A roughly 3" diameter  wood ball with a screw eye attached to the top of the ball is hung from a bifilar suspension so that the ball will swing in a plane.  Two small holes at the top of the frame provide an easy way to prepare the string suspension.  The smaller set of wheels are used with the HotRod, and

Physics Galore with the PocketLab Swing

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Submitted by Rich on Mon, 05/20/2019 - 16:00

The PocketLab Voyager Swing

The PocketLab Voyager swing, 3D printable from the accompanying .STL file, offers your physics students a way to study a plethora of physics concepts in a single experiment. Figure 1 shows a closeup up the swing, approximately inches tall, inches wide, and inches deep.

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