Day 32: Light the Bulb & Newton’s Second Law

Physical Science: Light the Bulb

I gave students a light bulb, a battery, an assortment of conductors and insulators, and instructions to figure out how to light up the bulb. As usual, a lot of students were quick to declare it would be easy because they did the same lab in elementary school. That confidence quickly fades once they get into the lab; I think a lot of students learned the trick without understanding why it works. Tomorrow, I’ll probably take a few minutes to show a clip of fresh MIT graduates struggling with the same task.

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Physics: Newton’s 2nd Law Lab

Students started data collection on Newton’s 2nd Law. A few groups wanted to try using a spring scale to apply a constant, known force to their cart, but ended up deciding the classic modified Atwoods machine would be easier. I’ve only got four LabQuests, so my students’ only exposure so far has been demonstrations and class discussions. I was very pleased when a couple of groups in each section asked if they could use a LabQuest and motion detector for their data collection, in spite of their lack of first-hand experience with the devices.

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