Flick It! Lab

One of the biggest things I’ve learned this year from teaching physics is that you don’t have to have a lot of fancy lab equipment.  At first I despaired that I didn’t have spark timers or force tables or lots of other things, but I’ve since learned that I make a lab out of just about anything.  And doesn’t that make sense?  Physics is all around us, so we should be able to apply it to just about anything.

Hence, the “Flick It! Lab.”  Horizontal projectile motion demonstrated with whatever happens to be laying around.  Get a meter stick, measure you x and y displacements, and you can get time and velocity.  Many students had fun making paper footballs to use.  One student even had a plush Angry Birds key chain.  Put on table, flick it off, measure the height of the table and the distance the object went.

A few things that I’ll watch for next time:

  • Object should not bounce on impact, hence objects like bouncy balls don’t work (unless students can mark the initial point of impact).
  • Measurement should be taken in meters, not centimeters as so many of my students did.  The gravitational constant is in m/s/s, so they need to check their units.

Here the lab sheet I created: Flick It Lab

Feel free to use. 🙂


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