OpenStax College Physics for AP® Courses

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"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

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

Sliding Textbooks

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In the culminating activity of the unit, students explore and apply their knowledge of forces, friction, acceleration and gravity in a two-part experiment. First, student groups measure the average acceleration of a textbook pulled along a table by varying weights (with optional extensions, such as with the addition of a pulley or an inclined plane). Then, with a simple modification to the same experimental setup, teams test different surfaces for the effects of friction, graphing and analyzing their results. Students also consider the real-world applications for high- and low-friction surfaces for different situations and purposes, seeing how forces play a role in engineering design and material choices.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Jacob Teter, Liz Anthony, Scott Strobel

Mouse Trap Racing in the Computer Age!

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Students design, build and evaluate a spring-powered mouse trap racer. For evaluation, teams equip their racers with an intelligent brick from a LEGO© MINDSTORMS© NXT Education Base Set and a HiTechnic© acceleration sensor. They use acceleration data collected during the launch to compute velocity and displacement vs. time graphs. In the process, students learn about the importance of fitting mathematical models to measurements of physical quantities, reinforce their knowledge of Newtonian mechanics, deal with design compromises, learn about data acquisition and logging, and carry out collaborative assessment of results from all participating teams.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Author: Pavel Khazron

Newton Rocket Car

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The purpose of this activity is to demonstrate Newton's third law of motion which states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction through a small wooden car. The Newton cars show how action/reaction works and how the mass of a moving object affects the acceleration and force of the system. Subsequently, the Newton cars provide students with an excellent analogy for how rockets actually work.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Brian Argrow, Geoffrey Hill, Janet Yowell, Jay Shah, Jeff White, Malinda Schaefer Zarske

Projectile Magic

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Students watch video clips from October Sky and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to learn about projectile motion. They explore the relationships between displacement, velocity and acceleration and calculate simple projectile motion. The objective of this activity is to articulate concepts related to force and motion through direct immersive interaction based on the theme, The Science Behind Harry Potter. Students' interest is piqued by the use of popular culture in the classroom.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Authors: Christine Hawthorne, Rachel Howser

Magical Motion

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Students watch video clips from the October Sky and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone movies to see examples of projectile motion. Then they explore the relationships between displacement, velocity and acceleration, and calculate simple projectile motion. The objective of this activity is to articulate concepts related to force and motion through direct immersive interaction based on "The Science Behind Harry Potter" theme. Students' interest is piqued by the use of popular culture in the classroom.

Material Type: Activity/Lab

Authors: Christine Hawthorne, Rachel Howser

Motion in 2D (AR)

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Try the new "Ladybug Motion 2D" simulation for the latest updated version. Learn about position, velocity, and acceleration vectors. Move the ball with the mouse or let the simulation move the ball in four types of motion (2 types of linear, simple harmonic, circle).

Material Type: Simulation

Authors: Michael Dubson, Sam Reid

Motion in 2D

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Try the new "Ladybug Motion 2D" simulation for the latest updated version. Learn about position, velocity, and acceleration vectors. Move the ball with the mouse or let the simulation move the ball in four types of motion (2 types of linear, simple harmonic, circle).

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Interactive

Authors: Michael Dubson, Sam Reid