Skip to main content

Arms of a Spinning Figure Skater

Submitted by PocketLab on Fri, 06/02/2017 - 18:52

Exploration

When a figure skater spins he/she uses the positioning of his/her arms to control the speed of the spin/ angular velocity. The angular momentum of the skater is always conserved, no matter the positioning of the arms, and can be represented by the equation L = Iw, where L is angular momentum, I is moment of inertia and w is angular velocity. The moment of inertia is an object’s resistance to change in angular velocity and is related to the distribution of the object’s mass.

Objective

In this experiment, students will:
1. Use an office chair that can spin 360 degrees to represent a spinning figure skater
2. Determine how the positioning of the spinner’s arms affects the moment of inertia and therefore the angular velocity of his/her spin.

Download PDF for complete lab activity 

Arms of a spinning figure skater diagram
Grade Level