We had a great evening of physics demos and discussions on Wednesday night. Thanks to Marty (CHS), Dave (CHS), Caleb (CHS), Josh (PMSA), Kunal (HPHS), Bryan ( GBN), Mark (PHS), Mike (SHS), and Sasha (Northwestern University) for sharing. The hosts were excited to give away 3D printed models of the “Accurate PVC Launcher”, “Moment of Inertia Spinner”, “Cheap Pulley”, and “Adjustable Frequency PVC Horn”. All of the designs were built using the free website www.tinkercad.com.
If you have access to your own 3D printer, you can print your own!
Click on the images below for the model files and instructions for printing the “Accurate PVC Launcher”, “Moment of Inertia Spinner”, “Adjustable Frequency PVC Horn”, and the “Cheap Pulley”:
For the past few years in our regular physics classes, students have struggled to complete the “Pendulum Energy Lab”. This lab involved setting up a mass hanging from the ceiling by a string. Students were asked to shoot video of the mass as it swung back and forth. They then analyzed the video to compute potential energy and kinetic energy at various points during the swing. The problem was that to get the height and speed, they would have to set up multiple meter sticks at lots of different crazy angles, and then have to deal with blurry video. The lab that was designed to show a simple concept ended up being so complicated and taking so much time that most students completely missed the point.
This year we decided to shoot high-quality video of the lab to see if we could distill things down to their essence and eliminate the blurry meterstick mess.
The result is the new “Pendulum Energy Lab” video. Students must still measure height and speed, but this time the measuring devices are perfectly positioned and are easy to read. Students can easily scroll through the video to record height, position, and time. We have included a paper copy of the activity which prompts students to create a data table for potential and kinetic energy at various points, then to create energy bar graphs. We are looking forward to trying the new lab in class on Monday!
Today was a beautiful day, perfect for launching the tennis ball cannon on the football field. We had a lot of good shots, and took videos of two of them with an iPhone. The first video was shot from the goal line, and landed in the end zone on the other side of the field. The second shot was also shot from the goal line, but it landed well into the track on the other side, for a total distance of 145 yards!
We wrapped the videos up in the app, and have made them available for student analysis. Enjoy, and please let us know if you are using them in your classes!
We just finished uploading six (really five, because we were able to reuse one of the scenarios) new high-speed videos for Video Motion Analysis called “Horizontal Atwood Lab”. We also put together a very simple lab activity to go with it, suitable for an introductory high school physics classes. In the activity, students analyze sets of three videos to determine the relationships between acceleration and total mass, and acceleration and force. Students should be able to finish the activity in about 30 minutes.
Now that the analysis apps are built, shooting new videos and uploading them goes fairly quickly. Let us know if you have any videos that you would like to see for your class!
We are pleased to announce “Video Motion Analysis“, a new set of apps on www.simbucket.com. Each app features one video shot with a high-speed camera. Students can scroll through each frame and take careful measurements. Some of the apps contain more advanced plotting, graphing, and analysis tools so that students can collect, plot, and analyze the data directly within the app.
We tried the “Ball Launched At An Angle” videos today with our students. Using the graphing and slope calculation tools, they were quickly able to determine that horizontal acceleration is always zero, and vertical acceleration is always 9.8 m/s² downward, no matter which videos they selected for analysis.
We are continuing to shoot video, and hope to have many more videos available for analysis over the coming months. If you have a physics lab that you do with your students and would like us to shoot video, please let us know. We will do our best to recreate it for you and make it available on www.simbucket.com.
The new Video Motion Analysis section can be found on the www.simbucket.com homepage, or via the following direct link.
With all the free time (hah!) afforded by the new school year, we have been busy putting together new simulations for our students. Two of these made their way onto simbucket.com: “Graph Matching” and “Tennis Ball Cannon”. Both simulations are built using HTML5 technology and are optimized for phones and tablet screens.
We built “Graph Matching” as a supplement to the classic physics experience where students have to walk forward and backward in front of a motion sensor to match the graph on a computer screen. Our simulated version is miniaturized to fit on the small screen. Each student guides a character walking forward or backward to match a graph on their mobile device. It worked great in physical science class to drive home the idea that steeper slopes = faster speeds.
“Tennis Ball Cannon” is a model of our tennis ball launcher that we use to shoot football field goals from ridiculous distances. Our real-life tennis ball cannon typically launches tennis balls at greater than 80 meters per second, which meant that it was necessary to account for air drag in the model. Students can easily adjust launch speed, launch angle, drag coefficient, air density, ball mass, and ball cross-section to make more accurate predictions of the trajectory of a tennis ball. Our students had a great time using the model to determine how fast our cannon shoots.
We hope you enjoy these simulations as much as we have. Please give them a try and let us know what you think!
We are excited to announce our newest simulation, “Balloon Charging Lab”. This simulation walks through the process of charging a balloon, and then allows users to charge other objects. We took great care to represent the motion of the electrons in the various materials in a way that is accessible to middle school and high school physics students, and are looking forward to using it in our classes next week.
The simulation features:
-A realistic balloon hanging from the ceiling by a stretchy string
-Insulators whose electrons randomly move in their atom’s “cloud”, but are influenced by all of the charges around them
-Conductors whose electrons are free to move throughout the material
-Electron transfer between the balloon and the other objects
-Physics-accurate force calculations based on the location of all point charges
Please let us know if you are using the simulation in the comments below!