PocketLab Voyager: The Effect of Area on Terminal Velocity of a Falling Object

Submitted by Rich on Tue, 07/18/2017 - 18:10

The effect of mass on the terminal velocity of an object falling in air is commonly done using basket coffee filters.  But how could we study the effect of area on the terminal velocity of a falling object?  One way to do this is to use PocketLab Voyager and its range finder along with a single piece of cardstock as the object to be dropped.  In this lesson, students discover a relationship between area and terminal velocity and compare their results to a common model of air resistance (aka drag).  

PocketLab Voyager: Polarization and Malus's Law

Submitted by Rich on Sun, 07/16/2017 - 16:14

One of the most well-known physical laws related to polarization is Malus’s Law.  This law states that the intensity of plane-polarized light passing through a rotatable polarizer analyzer varies as the square of the cosine of the angle through which the analyzer is rotated from the position giving maximum intensity.  The lesson described here allows you to verify Malus’s Law using PocketLab Voyager and one of the light polarizers contained in the PocketLab Scientist Kit.

PocketLab Voyager: How to Discover an Exoplanet

Submitted by Rich on Thu, 07/13/2017 - 00:53

Over the past twenty years, scientists have discovered hundreds of what are known as exoplanets—planets that orbit stars outside of our own solar system.   Different groups of scientists worldwide have used a variety of methods to detect these planets.  In this lesson we will investigate a method that has been quite fruitful in finding exoplanets as a result of the Kepler Mission, launched by NASA in 2009.  Another similar mission is CoRoT, led by the French Space Agency.  These missions identify exoplanets by a method called transit, in which the b

Position Vs. Time Investigation

Submitted by lessemj on Wed, 06/28/2017 - 20:59

Hello All,

I'm an AP Calculus teacher, and I used the attached lab to introduce position vs. time graphs to my students. My school doesn't offer physics after freshmen year and historically students have struggled to translate graphs into the actual motion that they represent. This year, using PocketLab and some magnets, the students were able to create their own position vs. time graphs, and concept mastery has been significantly higher. I'm definitely planning on repeating this lab next year!

PocketLab on a Skier's Edge Machine

Submitted by Rich on Wed, 06/28/2017 - 04:00

The PocketLab is an ideal device for measuring user performance for a variety of exercise equipment.  One example of such equipment is the Skier's Edge, whose company was founded in 1987.  This machine was designed for non-impact lateral conditioning that simulates the experience of downhill skiing.  The photo below shows the skiing machine.  The skier stands on the two black platforms, holding poles and moves the carriage back-and-forth on the curved white tracks.

PocketLab Joins Ozobot to Study Position, Velocity and Acceleration Concepts

Submitted by Rich on Wed, 06/28/2017 - 03:51

Ozobot ( is a tiny one inch diameter line-traveling robot that can be used in conjunction with PocketLab to easily study the physics concepts of position, velocity, and acceleration and their time graphs.  PocketLab is simply taped to the top of an Ozobot using double-sided mounting tape.  In other words, Ozobot gives Pocket lab a ride.  The photo below shows this setup, with Ozobot following a 1/4" heavy black line drawn with a chisel tip marking pen.

A Momentum Conservation Experiment for an Inelastic Collision Between Two Carts

Submitted by Rich on Wed, 06/28/2017 - 03:36

Do you have two PocketLab Maker Kit carts, and do you have the free VelocityLab app?  Then you are all set to do some experiments in conservation of momentum with PocketLab!  This lab discusses how to setup and perform an inelastic collision in which one cart (A) is moving toward another cart (B) that is at rest.  When cart A hits cart B, they stick and move off together.  The photo below shows the two carts shortly before the collision would occur.  PocketLab is mounted on a front wheel of cart A.  Small pieces of wood are stuck to the carts and protrude further than the wheels.  Some thic

A Classic Conservation of Momentum Experiment with PocketLab

Submitted by Rich on Wed, 06/28/2017 - 03:26

A well-known conservation of momentum experiment that has been around for many years involves dropping a brick onto a horizontally moving cart.  With PocketLab and the VelocityLab app, your students can perform this experiment easily with the cart from the PocketLab Maker Kit and a small block of wood.  The snapshot below shows the setup with the author about to drop the block of wood onto the cart coming from the left.  A pair of rails, with inside separation just a little larger than the axle of the carts, was constructed with thin balsa wood sticks.  This is optional but does help to kee

Conservation of Momentum When Two Carts "Explode"

Submitted by Rich on Wed, 06/28/2017 - 03:14

Do you have two carts from the PocketLab Maker Kits?  Do you have two PocketLabs?  You probably have at least two students in your physics class with iPhones.  Do they have the VelocityLap app installed on their iPhones?  Then you have the major components for your students to investigate conservation of momentum when two carts on a track "explode".