Sunday, October 25, 2009

Elkton Middle School Physics Lab! Part II

Execution of the plan:

When we got to Elkton Middle School we started with the Lenz’s tube. Rick tricked the students into thinking that if the person holding the tube was better at sports, than the metal slug would fall slower, which really got the boys upset when they found out the girls were better at sports than them. Of course we had to tell them the truth that he had been switching the metal slug with a magnet, but made a perfect lead into that day’s activities. We then broke the students up into two groups of four where one group would be building and experimenting with electromagnets and the other group would be doing Galileo’s experiment.

The students loved building the electromagnets and it sounded like Laura and Curtis were running their own little gossip table, but it wasn’t gossip, it was physics. It seemed to really peak their interest when after building their electromagnets, they actually worked and in fact had a little competition going to see who could get more paper clips on their magnet. Our winner of the day with a total of 80 paper clips (the picture to the right shows about 25 paper clipsThen they were asked why some people would have more paper clips than others, showing them that more coils would actually produce a stronger magnet. The students were also asked if this effect could happen backwards, or if you could use a magnet to create a current by moving that magnet through a coil of wire.

While Rick was running Galileo’s experiment all we heard was a constant 1….2….3….GO, as they were trying to synchronize their stopwatches to when they were dropping the carts down the tracks. There were constant measurements being taken of the height of the drop to how far is rolling down the hill to how much time does it take to get there. They were really excited to see that when they put their data that they measured into the excel program, they were able to get really close to the acceleration due to gravity. We were able to get 9.5 m/s2 and 10.5 m/s2 by running this experiment, which was really close.

Then we brought all of the students back together to show how what they researched today helped them out with solving their initial problem of how the Lenz’s Tube worked, with the induced magnetic force pushing back up against the force of gravity to slow it down!

Elkton Middle School Physics Lab!

Planning out the strategy:

Laura Simone, Curtis White, Rick Dunlap
went to Elkton Middle School with Lynn Lucatorto to share a little physics. Here's there story:

We wanted to find a unique way of explaining Lenz’s Tube to middle school students that would break it down to help them to see the forces that acted on the magnet as it fell through the aluminum tube. To do this we needed to look at the electromagnetic force as well as the gravitational force. We decided to break it down into two labs: building and testing electromagnets and Galileo’s experiment to find the acceleration due to gravity.

The idea of electromagnets was thought up as a great way to show the relationship between electricity and magnetism as well as it would a great project for each of the students to make and would be able to take home with them. Curtis and Laura had to figure out what materials were needed and what was necessary during the construction to make sure that it went smoothly. A simple idea was to wrap a copper wire around a non-galvanized nail and connect it to a D battery.
Galileo’s experiment for finding “g” by rolling balls down an inclined plane was used because up until this point the students know that gravity is pulling them down, but did not know how fast. So this would give them the chance to measure “g” themselves.

To do this, Rick set up a frictionless track and cart on a movable stand that would allow the students to change the height and therefore chance the angle that it dropped at. They would then be able to time each drop at each angle. The math did seem a bit difficult so an excel spreadsheet was created to help them out with that.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall Picnic

Once again it is time for the semi-annual department picnic. Here we see Ryan Burke armed with the tools necessary for good Physics and Astronomy picnic: a unicycle and a bull whip. I mean, come on... what else do you need for a good picnic?

Well it sure doesn't hurt to have two jolly and able cooks. Instead we have Dr. Scully and Dr. Niculescu stoking the fires and manning the "kitchen".

Nevertheless, lots of eating occurred and fun was had all around.

Fun and games for everyone!

We'll do this again in the spring...don't miss it!