Arbor Scientific is providing physics and physical science teachers with a collection of student lab activities on the study of Motion. Here you can browse lab activities by title and get teachers notes, student worksheets and a list of equipment and supplies needed for each activity.

Momentum – Tailgated by a Dart

In this lab, students will learn to estimate the speed of an object by applying conservation of momentum to an inelastic collision. Energy is not lost its transferred from one object to another. Students will fire a dart into the back of the free rolling car and measure the distance of the car, calculate the speed of the dart and car, and measure the mass of the car and dart.


Download Teacher Notes and Student Worksheets.

Required Equipment

Tailgated by a Dart Kit, stopwatch, meterstick, balance

Tailgated by a Dart Kit

SKU: PX-9501
$8.50

Meter Stick 6 pack

In Stock SKU: P1-7072
$18.00

Economy Digital Balance

In Stock SKU: 02-7000
$115.00
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Tornado in a Bottle Inquiry

Simple instruments to explore sound and frequency.
Tornado in a Bottle Inquiry
We will use funnels, soda bottles, and a toy called a Tornado Tube to explore the concepts of moment of inertia, rotational motion, angular momentum, kinetic and potential energy, and air pressure in an attempt to discover and explain the physics of a rather complex hydrodynamic system.

Required Equipment
Plastic Funnel, Stopwatch, Vortex Tube, Materials for Designing a Funnel, 2 Empty Soda Bottles, Water Source, Large Tub or Sink.

Acknowledgements: Thank you to Dr. J.R. Harkay author ofPhenomenal Physics for providing this student inquiry activity.Adapted from “Twister! Tornado in a Bottle,” an Inquiry Exercise by J. R. Harkay. See www.PhenomenalPhysics.com for more information on the complete Guided Inquiry Curriculum.


Dr. Russell Harkay
Keene State College
New Hampshire

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Horizontal Projectile Ramp with Ball

In Stock SKU: P2-8490
$14.00
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Range of a Horizontal Projectile

Students will use a photogate to measure the launch velocity of a horizontal projectile. That velocity will be used to predict the projectile’s range, or horizontal displacement. The Marble Projectile Ramp is used to launch a marble horizontally from a table or desk. The included screws can be moved to provide up to four different starting points and velocities. You can use a photogate to measure the marble’s velocity as it exits the ramp and predict where it will land using projectile motion equations. In the second part of the lab, students will use energy conversion to predict the ball’s velocity at the end of the ramp. Students will find, however, that the marble’s real velocity is quite a bit slower than what they predict using this formula. In fact, a large part of the marble’s initial potential energy is converted into rolling energy.
Required Equipment
Marble Projectile Ramp, Data Logger, Photogate, Meter stick, Clamp.
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Horizontal Projectile Ramp with Ball

In Stock SKU: P2-8490
$14.00

Timer and Photogates

In Stock SKU: P4-1450
$279.00

Meter Stick 6 pack

In Stock SKU: P1-7072
$18.00

4" C-Clamp

In Stock SKU: PX-1209
$8.00
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Horizontal Projectile

Galileo's Incline plane lab activity for acceleration.

Students will use a simple method, employing just a meter stick and stopwatch, to determine the initial velocity of a horizontal projectile. They will then predict the range of the projectile, precisely measure the actual range by using carbon paper, and calculate the percent difference.

Required Equipment
Smooth flexible track, steel ball, wood block, stopwatch, carbon paper, meter stick

Acknowledgements: 
Thank you to Dwight “Buzz” Putnam for his assistance in developing this lab. Buzz is a 25 year veteran physics teacher at Whitesboro High School, New York Science Teacher of the Year and Host of the Regents Physics Answers television show on PBS. You can also find him refereeing high school basketball games as well as presenting at the NSTA National Conferences.

Physics Teacher "Buzz" Putnam

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Acceleration Track

Conceptual Physics Lab kit. Flexible track approximately two meters in length. A rigid steel track approximately two meters in length. One 1″ steel sphere and one Hot Wheels car.

Acceleration Track Kit is specifically for use with the Conceptual Physics Lab Manual and Arbor Lab #1 Galileo’s Incline Plane.

Acceleration Track

In Stock SKU: PX-1001
$27.00

Digital Stopwatch Timer

In Stock SKU: 52-3200
$9.95

Replacement Steel Balls for P3-3520

In Stock SKU: P3-3521
$3.50

Meter Stick 6 pack

In Stock SKU: P1-7072
$18.00

Recommended quantity per lab group: 1 The “Wood Block” required for this lab is readily available at your local hardware store. This block needs to have enough mass to stop the steel ball from going off the end of the table. Each lab group would need one wood block.

Recommended quantity per lab group: 1 The “Carbon Paper” required for this lab is no longer available.

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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 and can be found by using the car’s weight and the angle of the ramp. If students wish to calculate the car’s acceleration (as in this lab) they will notice that the mass term cancels out of their calculations, leaving only the angle and acceleration due to gravity. Students will predict the acceleration of a car on a ramp at different angles. Then they will measure the actual acceleration and evaluate their predictions.

Required Equipment
Workshop Stand, Ramp, Car, Bolt, Hooked Masses, Easy Sense Data Logger, 2 Photogates, Balance (electronic or triple-beam).

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Car and Ramp Lab

In Stock SKU: P4-1405
$185.00

Timer and Photogates

In Stock SKU: P4-1450
$279.00

Hooked Mass Set

In Stock SKU: P1-1000
$85.00

Economy Triple Beam Balance

In Stock SKU: 02-7600
$96.00
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Racing Marbles: The Race

Two marbles will roll simultaneously on different paths, starting and ending at the same height. Students will predict and then observe the results of a “race” between the two marbles, and explain the results. Quantitative analysis of the motion will be done with photogates. Ramp A is the nearly horizontal ramp, and Ramp B dips down in the middle. Students will find that the velocities are identical at the first position, Ramp B is faster at the second position, and the velocities are identical at the third position. The marble on Ramp B, then, has the higher average velocity for the whole trip and will win the race.

Required Equipment
Physics Workshop Racing Marbles Lab, Data Logger, 2 Photogates.

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Racing Marbles Lab

In Stock SKU: P4-1370
$135.00

Timer and Photogates

In Stock SKU: P4-1450
$279.00
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Observing Acceleration with an Accelerometer

acceleration

Use a liquid accelerometer to observe different types of motion and classify the acceleration. Students will observe straight-line motion (constant velocity and constant acceleration), and then take their knowledge of the water’s behavior to more complex circular and pendulum motion. They will discover the centripetal (toward the center) acceleration of circular motion, and the acceleration toward equilibrium of a pendulum system.

Required Equipment
Liquid Accelerometer, Constant Velocity Car, Dynamics Cart, Spring Scales, String, Rubber Band.

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Constant Velocity Car (Carts)

In Stock SKU: 44-1090
$8.50

Dynamics Carts (pair)

In Stock SKU: P3-3530
$55.00

Spring Scales (Complete Set)

In Stock SKU: 01-6970
$35.00

Roll of String

In Stock SKU: PX-2134
$3.90

The “Rubber Band” required for this lab is readily available at your local grocery or convenience store and needs to be large enough to wrap around the accelerometer. Each lab group would need one rubber band.

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Acceleration Due to Gravity

acceleration of an object in freefall

The first experiment will use very basic equipment to measure an important quantity, the acceleration of an object in freefall. This is also known as the acceleration due to gravity, or g. The acceleration due to gravity is nearly the same at all points on the earth’s surface, 9.8 m/s2. You will compare your result to this accepted value. The second experiment will use a data-logger and photogates to measure the acceleration due to gravity. The “picket fence” has been used since photogates were developed to measure acceleration. The “pickets” block the photogate in sequence, giving a series of velocity readings. Using the velocities and the times between those velocities, the data-logger (or the student) can calculate the acceleration of the picket fence. The third experiment will use a data-logger and motion sensor (or sonic ranger) to measure the acceleration due to gravity.

Required Equipment
Physics Workshop Gravity Lab, Workshop Stand, Stopwatch, Meter stick, Data-logger with Photogates

Acknowledgements: Thank you to Cary Busby for her work in developing this lab. Cary has been High School Physics teacher and has presented physics related workshops at NSTA conferences and State science conferences around the country.

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Gravity Lab

In Stock SKU: P4-1380
$12.00

Physics Workshop Stand

In Stock SKU: P4-1901
$95.00

Digital Stopwatch Timer

In Stock SKU: 52-3200
$9.95

Meter Stick 6 pack

In Stock SKU: P1-7072
$18.00

Timer and Photogates

In Stock SKU: P4-1450
$279.00
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Factors Affecting Frequency

Two experiments. Choose one. In the first, students are guided through the process of testing 3 variables; mass, length, and amplitude; to determine which affects the frequency of a simple pendulum. In the second, students use inquiry and experimental design to test the same variables.

Required Equipment
Workshop Stand, Physics Workshop Pendulum Lab, Stopwatch, Meter Stick, Balance

Download Teacher Notes and Student Worksheets

Physics Workshop Stand

In Stock SKU: P4-1901
$95.00

Pendulum Lab

In Stock SKU: P4-1700
$85.00

Digital Stopwatch Timer

In Stock SKU: 52-3200
$9.95

Meter Stick 6 pack

In Stock SKU: P1-7072
$18.00

Sartorius M-Prove Model AY4000 4100g X 1.0g

In Stock SKU: 02-7070
$235.00
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Graphing Pendulum Motion

Students predict and then measure, using a motion sensor, the changing position, velocity and acceleration of a simple pendulum. Graphing the motion leads to a discussion of the total force on the pendulum at different points in its motion.

Required Equipment
Workshop Stand, Physics Workshop Pendulum Lab, Motion Sensor, Graphing Software

Download Teacher Notes and Student Worksheets

Physics Workshop Stand

In Stock SKU: P4-1901
$95.00

Pendulum Lab

In Stock SKU: P4-1700
$85.00

Go! Motion Sensor

In Stock SKU: P4-2400
$119.00
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