AAPT/PTRA Role of the Laboratory in Teaching Introductory Physics Documents

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The Yellow Light Problem

In this activity students investigate the timing of a traffic light to see if it is appropriately set.  This activity provides a real world example of the use of kinematics.  See Man Made World Laboratory Manual, ISBN 07-019506-4, published by McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1972.

Released under a Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995

Static Equilibrium

This activity is a variation of the typical static laboratory activity, and includes a method of measuring buoyant force.  See article "Static Equilibrium", by Jim Nelson in the December, 1985 issue of The Science Teacher.

Released under a Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995

Force Distribution

This activity is a life-sized activity for students to investigate the forces and torques acting on the supports of a bridge.

Released under a Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995

Motion of a Simple Pendulum

This is a typical simple pendulum laboratory activity with minimum directions.  An introduction is provided for a physical pendulum.  Timing can be done by using a light probe and a computer, photogate, or a stopwatch.

Released under a Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995

Prediction of Landing Position

In this activity, the students predict the landing point of a pendulum bob if its string is cut at the bottom of its swing.  Energy considerations are used to predict the point.  Then the students try it.

Released under a Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995

Ohm's Law

In this activity students set up their first circuit using meters and specially made resistors in heat sink boxes (not required), which do not require alligator clips and don't burn hands.

Released under a Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995

Power Transfer

In this activity students are asked to find the condition for maximum power transfer from a power supply to a load resistor.  By adding an "internal resistor" to a power supply it can be made a variable in a typical power transfer laboratory activity.  Students who have studied calculus can do a maximum minimum calculation to check the results of this activity.

Released under a Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995

Milli-Can Experiment

In this activity students will do a simulation of the Millikan experiment.  This activity can be used as an introduction to the analytical approach used in the famous Oil Drop Experiment for finding the charge of an electron.  See article in the January 1980 issue of The Physics Teacher.

Released under a Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995