Archive for January 2014
I had been wanting to add a lab where the students determine friction on an inclined plane. Students seem to struggle with the complexity of the problem and I thought a good lab would help. I wasn’t really happy with any of the labs I found on the internet, but I also wasn’t really up for creating one of my own. (Having four preps really sucks the life out of your creativity.) What I decided to do was to put the kids into groups, give each group a variable inclined plane (exactly the one in the picture), a couple of blocks, and lab weights. On the board I drew the force diagram of the block on a plane being pulled upward along with the appropriate formulas. The goal of the lab is for the students to be able to calculate the coefficient of friction between the incline and the block.
I gave the class the following instructions:
“You are creating a lab for next year’s students. You are going to need to decide on the lab procedure, required data and graphs, and the analysis questions. You need to write up the procedure and the lab results, but I only want one per group. I am going to take the best parts of each of your labs and use it next year.”
I asked them to start with only a single block, but they could add another if they think it will improve the lab. We discussed setting the incline from 0 to 40 degrees in 10 degree increments. They are using their phone to take pictures to include in their instructions and write-ups. They have one more day and then the paperwork is all due at the end of the week. I’m hoping for work that is a step above their usual lab write-ups.
I’m thinking maybe I lied to them. I originally did want the students to create a lab for next years’ students, but I might just give next years’ students the same assignment.