OpenStax College Physics for AP® Courses

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Direction of Acceleration

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In this short lab, students observe the movement of an air bubble in a small level, attached to a toy truck, as it is moved from a stop, to a steady speed and back to a stop. This gives a visual to the concepts positive acceleration, zero acceleration and negative acceleration.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Assessment, Lesson Plan

Author: Mary Spaulding

Exploring Acceleration Through Vectors

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This in class worksheet is designed to get students to think about and manipulate different accelerations in their head. Students work together with written descriptions of velocity and acceleration and draw the vectors in part one, and then turn that around in part two where they write descriptions of a car's motion based on the vector pictures they are given.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Assessment, Lesson Plan

"Gaitway" to Acceleration: Walking Your Way to Acceleration

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Student teams use sensors—motion detectors and accelerometers—to collect walking gait data from group members. They import their collected position and acceleration data into Excel® for graphing and analysis to discover the relationships between position, velocity and acceleration in the walking gaits. Then they apply their understanding of slopes of secant lines and Riemann sums to generate and graph additional data. These activities provide practice in the data collection and analysis of systems, similar to the work of real-world engineers.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Brian Sandall, Jeremy Scheffler

Accelerometer: Centripetal Acceleration

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Students work as physicists to understand centripetal acceleration concepts. They also learn about a good robot design and the accelerometer sensor. They also learn about the relationship between centripetal acceleration and centripetal force governed by the radius between the motor and accelerometer and the amount of mass at the end of the robot's arm. Students graph and analyze data collected from an accelerometer, and learn to design robots with proper weight distribution across the robot for their robotic arms. Upon using a data logging program, they view their own data collected during the activity. By activity end , students understand how a change in radius or mass can affect the data obtained from the accelerometer through the plots generated from the data logging program. More specifically, students learn about the accuracy and precision of the accelerometer measurements from numerous trials.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Carlo Yuvienco, Jennifer S. Haghpanah

Exploring Acceleration with an Android

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Students conduct an experiment to study the acceleration of a mobile Android device. During the experiment, they run an application created with MIT's App Inventor that monitors linear acceleration in one-dimension. Students use an acceleration vs. time equation to construct an approximate velocity vs. time graph. Students will understand the relationship between the object's mass and acceleration and how that relates to the force applied to the object, which is Newton's second law of motion.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Brian Sandall, Scott Burns

Position, Velocity and Acceleration

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Students observe four different classroom setups with objects in motion (using toy cars, a ball on an incline, and a dynamics cart). At the first observation of each scenario, students sketch predicted position vs. time and velocity vs. time graphs. Then the classroom scenarios are conducted again with a motion detector and accompanying tools to produce position vs. time and velocity vs. time graphs for each scenario. Students compare their predictions with the graphs generated by technology and discuss their findings. This lesson requires assorted classroom supplies, as well as motion detector technology.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Authors: Brian Sandall, Jeremy Scheffler

Direct Measurement Video of a Toy Car Accelerating

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This is a short activity intended to allow students to practice kinematics using a video of a familiar object: a spring-powered toy car. Students measure displacement and elapsed time from the video and use these measurements to calculate average speed. Observing that the car has an initial speed of zero, students can find the final speed and acceleration. Students will use a QuickTime video recorded at 240 frames per second, making measurements directly from the video using a ruler and a frame-counter overlaid on the video. The video at right is a preview of the video students use for the activity.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Author: Peter Bohacek

Newton's Second Law of Motion: Force, Acceleration and Velocity

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This educational wallsheet provides several simple illustrations of Newton's Second Law. In the activity included, students study the motion shown in the drawings to decide how it relates to the object's velocity, whether or not the velocity is changing (acceleration), and what forces are causing any acceleration. Activity worksheets are easily copied for use in the classroom with only the addition of paper and pencils. The activity provides teachers with background information, pre-activity reading, pre-activity discussion questions, an assessment, an extension activity for advanced students, and post-activity discussions that tie the classroom activity back to the Swift satellite launch. This is the second of four posters on Newton's Laws. A copy of the wallsheet intended to accompany the activity is available on this website.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Diagram/Illustration, Lesson Plan