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Horsepower Computational Laboratory Exercise

Faculty Commons material developed by Kevin Adkins - Published August 16, 2020

This exercise is an alternative to a traditional laboratory experiment where students collect and then analyze data. Instead, that lab would be replaced with a computational laboratory exercise where the students work a computational problem covering the same topic as the traditional lab. In our lab, the students have 1 hour and 50 minutes to complete the exercise. This implementation allows professors to integrate computation into the first year physics course without sacrificing lecture time.
This particular exercise is the complete, full lab that we present to our first semester physics students. It integrates kinematics with the idea of power to solve two problems by reading data and plots created in a spreadsheet program: one plot is provided in the template and one is created by the student. Both a spreadsheet template and solution are provided.
Learning Objectives:
1. To apply kinematic equations to solve an everyday problem.
2. To examine limitations to kinematic problems based on horsepower limitations.
3. To calculate the mechanical work done as a car speeds and relate this to gasoline requirements.

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