Physics

Foundational Level General Science Laboratory Descriptions

Introduction to Excel

Lab 1 Introduction to Excel

Students learn the basic functions of Excel (formulas and graphs) by simulating an object in free fall, which they will use to analyze data through the rest of the course.  They will enter data, use formulas to do calculations, and graph and fit data.

Kinematics

Lab 2 Kinematics

Students learn how to use a motion detector to measure motion, how to interpret graphs of position and velocity versus time, and to understand the value of measurement tools versus human guided tools (stopwatches, etc).  Students predict, generate, and interpret graphs of position vs. time and velocity vs. time. The graphs will be generated by a cart moving on an air track and by moving people. 

Acceleration

Lab 3 Acceleration   

Students practice making precise measurements with the motion sensor to explore how various motions are represented on an acceleration-time graph. Students discover the relationship between position, velocity, and acceleration graphs by predicting the behavior of flat, uphill, and downhill tracks.  They will then present results related to experiments on motion to classmates by using visuals to describe the mathematic formulas related to motion.

Forces

Lab 3 Forces

Students will develop a method for reliably measuring forces using a force probe while investigating the motion of an object. Through this, they will explore how the motion of an object is related to the forces applied to it.  They will then be able to apply and explain the mathematical relationship between the force applied to an object and its acceleration.

Pendulum

Lab 4 Pendulum

In this experiment, students determine what variables a pendulum’s period depends on and how without a detailed procedure to follow.  Students design their own experiments and methods of data analysis.

Electricity

Lab 5 Electricity

Students develop an understanding of simple circuits by building simple circuits in the lab. They then use a digital multimeter to measure current, voltage, and resistance in particular circuits. Finally, students will explore and apply the mathematical relationship between current, voltage, and resistance through a circuit element that they build in the lab.

Heat Transfer and Change of Phase

Lab 6 Heat Transfer and Change of Phase

Students set controls and variables to investigate the concept of heat transfer and phase changes, including how adding substances affects water’s boiling point and time taken for water to boil.  Through this process, they distinguish melting and boiling points and evaporation and condensation.

Free Fall

Lab 7 Free Fall           

In this experiment, students study the motion of objects undergoing constant acceleration and measure the acceleration due to gravity, g. They use two different methods to measure g and determine whether your documented experimental errors can account for the discrepancy between their value and the accepted value of g = 9.8 m/s2. They also study an object in free fall when air resistance cannot be neglected.

Light Energy and Color

Lab 8 Light Energy and Color

Students develop an understanding of LEDs by building a simple circuit with LEDs in the lab. Using this circuit, they explore and apply the mathematical relationships between the speed, frequency, energy, and wavelength of light.

Force Fields - Actions at a Distance (Electricity and Magnetism)

Lab 9 Force Fields

Investigates the following questions, using a variety of materials and magnets:
“How can we predict the behavior of samples of matter that are electrically charged or magnetic?”
“How can we visualize magnetic force fields?”
“What factors determine the strength and direction of the magnetic field produced by an electromagnet?”
“How can a magnet induce a current in a wire?”