January 19, 2011

More cars

This week in physics I wanted to introduce the idea of impulse as a stepping stone into momentum. I wanted to make a connection between work and impulse and the idea of force over distance and force over time. So out came the ramps and the cars again.

I had them do the following (I gave them some hints not shown):
  1. Create a mathematical expression that relates the the amount of time a force is applied to an object of mass and the velocity of that object. 
  2. Using the ramps and toy cars from before break. Collect 4-5 data points,the data should agree with your answer to #1.  If they don't agree figure out why and adjust.
  3. Put your group's result on the board. 
No fancy equipment needed.
The results weren't quite so magical as before, but they figured out an expression for impulse (but didn't know its name) and gathered data to back up their pencil and paper work. What more can you ask for?

You can almost smell the learning.
In retrospect some of the hints I gave could be removed and allow a little more true inquiry.

The complete document can be found as a google doc.

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