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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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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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Competing Pendulums

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Submitted by Rich on Sat, 05/18/2019 - 19:30

Competing Pendulums

The two pendulums shown in Figure 1 were printed on a 3D printer.  The .STL file is included with this lesson so you can print them with your 3D printer.  They have the same length, same mass, and same thickness.  They swing about a piece of metal rod from a coat hanger.  To provide a rigid support, the rod has been attached to a ring stand.  A tiny magnet has been taped to the bottom of each pendulum.  PocketLab Voyager's magnetic field sensor keeps track of the motion as the pendulums swing back-and-forth.  What is your prediction as to which one has

Simple Harmonic Motion Demonstration Machine

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Submitted by Rich on Thu, 05/09/2019 - 14:52

Introduction

In a well-known 1938 book entitled "Demonstration Experiments in Physics", editor Richard Sutton describes a device that produces simple harmonic motion (SHM) mechanically.  With today's tremendous growth in the 3D printing industry, such a device can now be easily constructed for classroom demonstrations of SHM.  Couple this device with PocketLab Voyager and you can obtain real-time graphs describing the motion.

Convert the PocketLab HotRod to an Inertia Cart

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Submitted by Rich on Thu, 04/25/2019 - 17:37

The PocketLab Inertia Cart

This cool inertia cart dates back to the early 1900's, but hasn't seen much action since, primarily due to a lack of ease in construction.  However, now with the PocketLab HotRod and three 3D printable parts whose .STL files are included with this lesson, you can use this demonstration in your classroom.  Depending upon the grade level of your students, you can customize the discussion as appropriate.  Concepts involved include Newton's Laws of Motion, pulleys, force, acceleration, Half-Atwood machine, inertia, and moment of inertia.

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Moment of Inertia / Mass Contrasted

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Submitted by Rich on Mon, 04/22/2019 - 15:32

Introduction to Moment of Inertia

There are numerous analogies when comparing linear and rotational motion.  At the heart of these comparisons lie the concepts of mass on one hand and moment of inertia on the other.  In addition to being a property of any physical object, mass is a measure of the resistance of an object to acceleration when a net force has been applied to the object.  Newton's Second Law of Motion expresses this in the fa

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The "Speeder Upper" - Translational and Rotational Motion Study

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Submitted by Rich on Wed, 04/17/2019 - 19:08

What's a "Speeder Upper"?

As shown in Figure 1, a "Speeder Upper" is a pair of disks that are connected by a short rod of much smaller radius.  The NSTA science ruler gives you a feel for the dimensions of the Speeder Upper.  The disks are 0.5" thick and 2.5" in diameter and are connected by a short 5/16" diameter wood dowel rod.  The 3D printer stl file for the disks is provided with this lesson in the event that you want to make a Speeder Upper for use in your physics classroom.

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Brownian Motion: Order from Chaos

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Submitted by Rich on Fri, 03/15/2019 - 02:27

Brownian Motion

Brownian motion can be defined as the random motion of particles in a liquid or gas caused by the bombardment from molecules in the containing medium.  Have you ever looked at dust particles in the sunlight shining through a window?  They appear to move about randomly, even defying gravity.  This is an example of Brownian motion in which the dust particles are bombarded on all sides by gas molecules in the air.  Other examples of Brownian motion include the motion of grains of pollen on the surface of still water, the dif