Middle School

What causes the seasons?

Submitted by PocketLab on Tue, 05/22/2018 - 17:41

What causes the seasons on Earth? 

Weather is always changing. Humans have been dividing up the year based on these changes in weather for thousands of years. A division of a year based on weather is called a season. Different regions of the Earth have different names for seasons and different types of seasons. The most common seasonal names used are Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.

Linear Motion - Match the Graph Activity

Submitted by PocketLab on Mon, 05/07/2018 - 21:52

Lab Activity: Understanding Linear Motion - Match the Graph Activity


In the PocketLab activity Modeling Linear Motion - Position, Velocity versus Time, we learned how graphs can be used to model an object’s motion. In that activity, a cart was pushed up a ramp and PocketLab’s rangefinder measured its change in position and velocity vs. time as it traveled up the ramp, changed direction and came down the ramp. The graphs modeled the cart’s direction of movement and speed. In this activity, we will take the concept further.

Modeling Position, Velocity vs. Time

Submitted by PocketLab on Tue, 05/01/2018 - 19:16

Lab Activity: Modeling Linear Motion with Position and Velocity vs. Time Graphs


This lab activity helps in understanding how measurements of an object's motion can be modeled in position and velocity vs. time graphs. Velocity is a vector measurement that gives an object’s speed and direction of movement. If a cart is pushed up a ramp, it will experience many changes in velocity that can be observed and measured.

Physics, Science and Math Days

Submitted by DaveBakker on Wed, 04/18/2018 - 23:40

Amusement parks provide an authentic opportunity to conduct real science and apply physics and math concepts in real-world situations.  While visiting an amusement park, not only will you have a fun-filled day of riding rides, but you will get to apply what you have learned about estimation, measurement, motion, forces, gravity, energy, and systems.

A Wireless Controller for a Scratch Game

Submitted by DaveBakker on Tue, 04/10/2018 - 02:36

Let's create a game in Scratch that is controlled by a wireless controller using the PocketLab accelerometer. PocketLab can connect directly and wirelessly to Scratch, and can send sensor data in real time. This game uses the PocketLab accelerometer to move sprites around the screen.

This program is for intermediate or advanced Scratch users, and if you would like a simpler starting point to get started with connecting Scratch to the outside world through PocketLab, you can start here:

Programming with Sensors in Scratch

Submitted by DaveBakker on Sun, 04/08/2018 - 05:18

This lesson will show you programming in Scratch with external sensors. We can read sensor data directly into Scratch and use it to write programs that make decisions based on what the sensors are measuring. If you need a quick primer on Scratch programming, go to this link. There are plenty of resources to get you started.

PocketLab HotRod Ramp: A Study in Rotational and Translational Motion

Submitted by Rich on Mon, 03/26/2018 - 01:31

This project will get your physical science/physics students involved in a number of Next Generation Science Standards, particularly in the NGSS science and engineering practices.  This investigation provides a nice opportunity for the students to (1) suggest hypotheses, (2) design an experiment to test their hypotheses, (3) analyze and interpret their data, and (4) use principles of physics to explain their observations quantitatively.

PocketLab Voyager/Wonder Gears: An Experiment on Gear Ratios and Angular Velocity

Submitted by Rich on Mon, 03/12/2018 - 03:10

Gears date back many centuries and are extremely useful since they can change the direction imposed by a source of power, as well as torque and speed.  This lesson describes an experimental study of the relationship between gear ratio and angular velocity by using PocketLab Voyager and Wonder Gears.    Wonder Gears is listed for ages 3+, with this lesson heavily emphasizing the “+” part of the description—since this lesson is perfect for junior high students aged 12 through 14.  This is one of the many advantages of Po

Scratch and PocketLab Space Blaster game

Submitted by DaveBakker on Tue, 03/06/2018 - 00:03

Download the Scratch .sbx file for a Space Blaster game you can play with Scratch and PocketLab. Works with PocketLab One and Voyager. 

Instructions to run ScratchX and the PocketLab web app are here.

The Space Blaster game is also featured in our PocketLab and Scratch STEM Coding Challenge - see attached pdf file for complete programming guide.

Head-on Collision versus Crashing Into a Wall

Submitted by Rich on Sat, 02/24/2018 - 03:56


Let’s imagine two scenarios:

1.       Two identical vehicles, each of whose speedometers reads 50 mph, travel toward each other and experience a head-on collision.

2.       Another identical vehicle, traveling at 50 mph, hits an unmovable, unbreakable and impenetrable rock wall.

Which collision is more severe from the viewpoint of one of these vehicles?