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.

Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995
Last Modified June 14, 2006

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.

Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995
Last Modified June 14, 2006

Force Distribution 

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

Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995
Last Modified June 14, 2006

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.

Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995
Last Modified June 14, 2006

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.

Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995
Last Modified June 14, 2006

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.

Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995
Last Modified June 14, 2006

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.

Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995
Last Modified June 14, 2006

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.

Copyright, Jim and Jane Nelson

Published January 1, 1995
Last Modified June 14, 2006