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Labs for Students

This page lists lab activities we do in my physics classes. These are the lab sheets students receive, or something very similar. For other teachers, please feel free to copy and use anything you like, and edit them as appropriate for your students! Please feel free to leave comments/feedback/suggestions/share other things you come up with, with me. I am always on the lookout for things to learn or to steal.  :-)

Mechanics labs

Distance vs. Displacement Vector
A more personal connection to these two concepts!

Finding Speed & Error Analysis
Find speed graphically, and also get initial practice on error analysis (measurement trials, standard deviation, propagation of uncertainties for results, error bars, etc.)

Properties of a Pendulum - Developing an Empirical Formula
Students develop an empirical formula for the period of a pendulum, looking at length, mass, angular amplitude and acceleration of gravity.

Determine g and Mass of Earth Using Pendulum
A neat application of results from previous pendulum lab for determining properties of entire planets!

Air friction
Use coffee filters to investigate the behavior of air friction and terminal velocity.


EM labs

Equipotential Lines and Electric Potential Gradient
This is a good way to measure and visualize equipotential lines, and then also map the electric field pattern using the gradient concepts, E = -dV/dr.

Ohm's law: Develop Empirical Formula for Resistor Circuits
This allows us to figure out what this rule is, from data, before we make use of it in class.

RC Series Circuit
Figure out the behaviors of a series RC circuit prior to deriving or discussing in class.

General Inquiry (topics not normally studied in a high school class)

Hydraulic jump - Parameterizing a Phenomenon
This activity with hydraulic jump is used to model for students how to think about a phenomenon in terms of its basic parameters. It can be used to develop new research topics, experiments/projects, and even independent research lists.

Video Game Analysis: Phact or Phiction?
Students must capture a screencast of them playing a video game, and then do an analysis to determine if the game uses earth-bound physics, or something completely messed up!

Modern Physics Labs

Radioactivity and Half-life Simulation
Use M7Ms (or Skittles, pennies) to simulate the concept and mathematical behavior of radioactive decay and half-lives.

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