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Arms of a Spinning Figure Skater

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


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.


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