STEM Webinar: Part 1

STEM Webinar: Part 1


This is part one of a webinar that was put on in partnership with STEMteachersPHX for the members of the Arizona STEM Acceleration Project (ASAP). James Lincoln shows the ways he used this equipment in the classroom, developed over many years of teaching middle school science and high school physics and physical science. The products here were selected because of their versatility and can be used to teach the fundamentals of more than one concept. Below, you can find James's explanation of why these tools are useful when teaching middle school science and STEM.


In this 2-part webinar series, James Lincoln, performs various demos for an Arizona STEM Acceleration Program (ASAP) professional development session. The curation of demos can be performed across all grade levels and covers concepts in physics, physical science, and STEM . In addition to the webinar, James has written why or how he would use each product below.

Force and Motion

Constant Velocity Cars (Timestamp: 00:15)

Use these to create graphs of constant velocity. Set one of them up with only 1 out of 2 batteries and you can race a slow car vs. a fast car. The graph of distance vs. time makes straight lines where the slope is the speed.

Acceleration Cars (Timestamp: 00:48)

Use these to show that acceleration is reduced by mass, Newton's 2nd Law. Pull back the cars until they click, then release for a race. If there is added mass in the carriage then the truck's acceleration is reduced. Calculate the acceleration with d = 1/2 a t^2.

Spring Sclaes (Timestamp: 01:20)

Each spring scale has a different job. Different colors for different force strengths. Use the blue for very sensitive measurements, use the brown for Weight vs. Mass Lab. 1 kg weighs 9.8 N which is about 10 N. Use the yellow and red scales for heavier or stronger forces.

Fan Cart (Timestamp: 01:51)

Quantify F = m a using this device. The fan provides a nearly constant force, pushing itself through the air. Change the mass to verify that it is reduces the acceleration. Again, calculated using d = 1/2 a t^2.

Air Puck (Timestamp: 02:42)

These are great for demonstrating frictionless motion. An object in motion will remain in motion if there is no friction, Newton's 1st Law. These little floating pucks remove friction forces. They are durable and easy to use.

Conservation of Energy

Introductory Energy & Motion Lab (Timestamp: 04:00)

Potential Energy is stored through increased height, but kinetic energy is not linear with velocity. If you double the height from which we release the car, this lab will show that the increase of the speed is slower. Therefore, if you want to double the velocity, you will have to 4 times the height of release! mgh = 1/2 m V^2

BeeSpi v (Timestamp: 04:40)

This miraculous little box can measure the speed of any object passing through it. It does not have to be a specific size! Because there are two gates that get blocked it can calculate the time between initial blocks and give the answer. This simplifies set up and reduces your time wasted setting up, breaking down, and testing out your labs!

Racing Marbles Lab (Timestamp: 05:01)

Very few experiments clearly demonstrate Kinetic and Potential Energy. During the lowest portion of the ramp the KE is maximized allowing the lower marble to use its potential. This is a great predict and explain, observe and explain, listen and learn all class demo.

Properties and Structure of Matter

Density Identification Set (Timestamp: 07:10)

A vast selection of materials are available for students to investigate. Middle schoolers love to get to know metals and plastics and glass and lucite. Not only can density be investigated conceptually and quantitatively, but this is also a lab for becoming familiar with the look and feel of a diversity of different substances.

Reversible Thermoelectric Demonstrator (Timestamp: 07:52)

This is a great chance to show the thermoelectric effect and teach about thermocouples. When different metals are joined, heated electricity will flow between them. The overt expectation is that this is a heat engine: heat flow from one side to another can be used to do mechanical work. This not only visualizes the idea that electrons will have a preference to move from one side to another, when given enough thermal energy, but it can be measured as well if you connect a voltmeter or ammeter.

Heat Pads (Timestamp: 08:58)

Measuring calories released in an exothermic reaction is a fun and meaningful lab that students can do. To make the calculation, simply multiply:

Calories = (mass of water) x (change in temperature) where mass is in grams and temperatures are in Celsius.  

This is much safer than burning a peanut. They will find thousands of calories are released from the phase change of a liquid to a solid. This demands an explanation. Food calories are actually "kilocalories."

Radiometer (Timestamp: 10:49)

Light transfers energy. We like to say that light travels in waves, which is true in the macroscopic sense, but not true in the quantum sense. When it comes to light waves, they can heat up the vanes of a radiometer and cause them to spin. (The black side heats up first, pushing on the low pressure air inside.) The surprise is that most of the heating is coming from invisible light, such as infrared, so hot lamps - like incandescent lamps - work better. The bigger surprise is that hot water can get it to spin. The coup de gras is when cold water gets it to spin the other way. Why does this happen? Try to guess... The explanation is that the black side not only heats up faster but it also cools down faster. Black objects will cool off faster than white ones. No fooling. Thus, the white side is hotter, pushing on the air, pushing the vanes backwards.

Magnetic Marbles (Timestamp: 12:16)

Metallic bonding causes metal atoms to stick together. Use the magnetic marbles to simulate gold atoms. Add white marbles and you now have an alloy of silver and gold. This can teach the karat system in which gold is alloyed by 24 parts of its mass. For example, 12 karat gold is half gold, half silver (or platinum, etc). It is helpful to have 6 yellow marbles, so buy a few packs.

Teacher Molecular Modeling Kit (Timestamp: 14:12)

Wonderfully model many molecules with these kits. My favorite is to build water molecules and explain why they are bent while CO2 is linear. The bending comes from unpaired oxygen electrons which you can show by adding in the flaps. These electrons push down the Hydrogens giving the typical Triangular shape of H2O.

James Lincoln

Physics Instructor

James Lincoln is an experienced physics teacher with graduate degrees in education and applied physics. He has become known nationally as a physics education expert specializing in original demonstrations, the history of physics, and innovative hands-on instruction. The American Association of Physics Teachers and the Brown Foundation have funded his prior physics film series and SCAAPT's New Physics Teacher Workshops. Lincoln currently serves as the Chair of AAPT's Committee on Apparatus and has served as President of the Southern California Chapter of the AAPT, as a member of the California State Advisory for the Next Generation Science Standards, and as an AP Physics Exam Reader. He has also produced Videos Series for UCLA's Physics Demos Project, Arbor Scientific,,, and


November 07, 2023 Alexander Gonzalez

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