Day 104 – Calculating Energy

Physics 11 – Today I was away from class again so a TOC came in to cover. The main task for the day was for the physics students to learn how to calculate kinetic and gravitational energy.

Ideally I would like students to work through this by doing two experiments, having already learned that Es = 1/2 k x^2

  1. launch a spring loaded cart using different springs and measure the speed that results
  2. launch a spring loaded cart up a ramp using different springs and see how high it goes

Both of these activities really require a decent cart with spring (ie little friction) and a motion sensor for the speed.  Especially for task #1 we would need a decent computer for quickly graphing the data and manipulating the graphs.

This kind of activity would take at least two classes and probably three.  The question I wonder is whether it’s worth it.  Research says yes but it’s also about value systems.  We can spend a lot of time going deep on topics and using good process skills, or we can move through the topics quickly and maybe work on some interesting and creative (engineering) projects.

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