Cool Labs

Acceleration and Gravity
Acceleration and Gravity

When a car is on a ramp, a portion of its weight works to roll it down the ramp. Another portion works to hold it down to the ramp. These two portions, or component forces, are perpendicular to one another...

Popper Energy
Popper Energy

Students will calculate the potential and kinetic energy of a popper toy using simple formulas. Potential energy is found by observing the maximum height. Kinetic energy is found by using a dynamics formula to find the popper's starting velocity. Students...

Pulleys, Work, and Energy
Pulleys, Work, and Energy

Students construct a complex system of six pulleys and determine its ideal mechanical advantage. They then use the system to lift a weight and measure the work input and energy output of the system. They calculate the actual mechanical advantage...

Force and Inclined Plane
Force and Inclined Plane

Students will elevate the car in two ways: lifting directly and pulling up the ramp. They will find that it takes less force to pull the car up the ramp, but they do more work. The extra energy goes into...

Similar and Dissimilar Charges
Similar and Dissimilar Charges

Purpose: To compare the responses of objects with similar and dissimilar charges. Summary: Students use a hand-crank Van de Graaff Generator to charge different objects to determine whether they attract or repel each other. Question: Do objects with a similar...

Levers and Balance
Levers and Balance

In the first lab, students will investigate the arrangements of weights that result in equilibrium (balance) in the lever system. They will find that both the force and the distance from the fulcrum are important in evaluating the system. This...

Lab #37.4 Magnetism: Generator Activator
Lab #37.4 Magnetism: Generator Activator

Purpose In this activity, students will investigate electromagnetic induction, the principle behind electric generators. Discussion In 1820, Hans Christian Ørsted found that electricity could create magnetism. Scientists were convinced that if electricity could create magnetism, magnetism could create electricity. Still,...

Balloon Helicopter
Balloon Helicopter

The balloon helicopter is a classic toy with a simple design. The physics that explains its motion, though, can be difficult to explain. Students will observe the motion of the helicopter and study its construction before applying Newton's 3rd Law...

Forces in Equilibrium
Forces in Equilibrium

Students will place three different forces on a washer, and then arrange the forces so that the washer is in stable equilibrium in the center of the table. The forces must be visualized as vectors to understand how they can...

Life-Size Collisions
Life-Size Collisions

Students will observe "explosions," in which one student on a dynamics cart pushes another. From this, they will confirm the relationship between mass and velocity in determining momentum. They will also reinforce the idea of a closed system by experimenting...

Circular Motion and the Flying Pig
Circular Motion and the Flying Pig

The Flying Pig provides students with a fun way to study circular motion. The pig and its string trace a conical pendulum and allow a perfect opportunity for calculations and measurements of circular motion. Students should be familiar with forces,...

Lab #36.8 Magnetism: Motor Madness
Lab #36.8 Magnetism: Motor Madness

PurposeIn this activity, students will investigate the principles that make electric motors possible. DiscussionPerhaps the most important invention of the 19th century was the electric motor. You use a motor whenever you use electric power to make something move. A...