Welcome to The Laboratory!

Science is different than other subjects. It is not just the subject of science that is different; the entire process of doing science is different. The means by which knowledge is acquired is different in science than it is in history or mathematics or poetry or ... . Science is different because the answers to scientific questions are not found in a textbook or through pondering high and lofty thoughts. Indeed, scientists ponder and hopefully think high and lofty thoughts; and indeed students in science class will find answers in a textbook. But the basis of what scientists believe and why they believe it is not the result of mere thinking or reading in a textbook. The basis of what scientists believe is the result of the careful collection and analysis of laboratory evidence. In any physics class, the differentness of science will be most evident when it comes time for lab.

In physics class, lab is central. Integral. Sacred. More than a mere place in the back of the classroom, the laboratory is the place where physics students do physics. It is in the laboratory that physics students learn to practice the activities of scientists - asking questions, performing procedures, collecting data, analyzing data, answering questions, and thinking of new questions to explore. The lab ideas and associated pages in The Laboratory section of this web site are designed to help teachers improve their lab programs by adopting labs with a purpose. There are over 150 lab ideas presented here - but their presentation is much different than the traditional presentation of a lab. The traditional lab comes with a lengthy procedure which dominates the landscape - both the landscape of the distributed paper as well as the landscape of the student mind. The Laboratory attempts to change all this by presenting students with a Purpose, and primarily a Purpose. In the pages at The Laboratory, you will find labs with a purpose.

The lab description pages which are linked to below describe the Question and the Purpose of each lab and provide a short description of what should be included in the student lab report. You will hardly ever find a procedure, and very few data tables. The multitude of other pages found at The Laboratory are designed to help teachers use this section of the website (or at least parts of it) effectively in their classroom. Teachers will find prescribed methods of use, a short philosophical background, extensive teacher guides for every lab, grading rubrics, auxiliary items which can be provided to assist students in the completing of their lab work, and information about using lab notebooks. And to make it as easy as possible to use the labs in the classroom, much of the information is provided to teachers as PDF and Microsoft Word downloads. Once downloaded, the information can be edited, altered, augmented and customized to reflect the teacher's personal style and the unique needs of the students in their classrooms.

The following pages are recommended reading for teachers interested in using this section of the web site.

Quick Links to Lab Descriptions:

One Dimensional Kinematics

Title of Lab Lab Description
Speedometer Lab html
Speedometer Cubed Lab html
Diagramming Motion Lab html
Position-Time Graphs Lab html
Interpreting the Slope Lab html
Velocity-Time Graphs Lab html
Match That Graph Lab html
Two-Stage Rocket Lab html
Free Fall Lab html
Dune Buggy Challenge Lab html

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Newton's Laws

Title of Lab Lab Description
Pass the Water Lab html
Galileo for a Day Lab html
Wait! Hmmm. Gee. Lab html
F-m-a Lab html
Coffee Filter Skydiver Lab html
From a Feather to an Elephant Lab html
Falling Body Spreadsheet Study html
Friction Lab html
Mu Shoe Physics Lab html
Breaking Strength Lab html
Two-Body Lab html
Ut Tensio, Sic Vis Lab html
Normal Force-o-meter Lab html

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Vectors and Projectiles

Title of Lab Lab Description
Map Lab html
As the Crow Flies Lab html
Where Am I? Lab html
Road Trip Lab html
Crossing the River Lab html
Basketball Analysis Lab html
Projectile Simulation Lab html
Projectile Problem-Solving Lab html
Projectile Problem-Solving II Lab html
Launcher Speed Lab html
Maximum Range Lab html
Hit the Target Lab html

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Vectors and Forces

Title of Lab Lab Description
It's a Breeze Lab html
Getting Hung Up by Tension Lab html
Sign Hanging Lab html
Maximum Load Lab html
Science Friction Adventure Lab html
Inclined Plane Lab html
On a Roll Challenge Lab html
Modified Atwood's Machine Lab html

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Momentum and Collisions

Title of Lab Lab Description
Being Impulsive About Momentum Change Lab html
Balloon Toss Lab html
Rebounding versus Sticking Lab html
Before and After Lab html
Action-Reaction Lab html
Sand Balloon Lab html
Inelastic Collision Analysis Lab html
Elastic Collision Analysis Lab html
What's Cooking? Lab html
Two-Dimensional Collision Lab html

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Work and Energy

Title of Lab Lab Description
It's All Uphill Lab html
It's All Uphill - The Sequel Lab html
Powerhouse Lab html
Marble Energy Lab html
Marble Energy II Lab html
Work-Kinetic Energy Lab html
Energy on an Incline Lab html
Energy of a Pendulum Lab html
Spring Energy Lab html
Elastic Cord Spreadsheet Study html
Stopping Distance Lab html
All Work and No Play Lab html

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Circular Motion and Satellite Motion

Title of Lab Lab Description
Making the Turn Lab html
Loop the Loop Lab html
Race Track Lab html
The Great Mass Attraction Simulation html
Solar System Sports Spreadsheet Study html
Satellite Motion Simulation html
The Law of Harmonies Analysis html
Jupiter's Moons Analysis html
The Mass of Saturn Analysis html
The Mini Drop Lab html

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Static Electricity

Title of Lab Lab Description
Action at a Distance Lab html
Sticky Tape Experiments Lab html
Pop Can Induction Lab html
Charging by Induction Lab html
Electric Field Simulation html
Coulomb's Law Lab html
Electric Field Lines Lab html

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Electric Circuits

Title of Lab Lab Description
Sparky the Electrician Lab html
First to Light Lab html
Greatest Current Lab html
Voltage-Current-Resistance Lab html
Round vs. Oblong – the Greatest Resistance? Lab html
Series versus Parallel Lab html
Comparing Voltage Drops and Currents in Series Lab html
Bulbs in Series Circuits Lab html
Comparing Voltage Drops and Currents in Parallel Lab html
Bulbs in Parallel Circuits Lab html
Combination Circuits Lab html
Energy Audit Activity html

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Wave Basics

Title of Lab Lab Description
A Wiggle in Time Lab html
Period of a Pendulum Lab html
A Wiggle in Time and Space Lab html
Wave Motion Lab html
Speed of a Wave Lab html
Vibrating Spring Lab html
Nodes and Antinodes Lab html
Harmonic Frequencies Lab html
Wave Behavior Demonstration Lab html

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Sound and Music

Title of Lab Lab Description
Listen Up! Lab html
Mach 1 Lab html
Natural Frequency and Standing Waves Lab html
Closed End Air Column Lab html
Open End Air Column Lab html
Guitar String Lab html
Music in a Bottle Lab html
Musical Intervals Lab html
Musical Scales Lab html
Timbre Lab html
Who Can Hear Monte Tone? Lab html

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Light and Color

Title of Lab Lab Description
Ripple Tank Lab html
Two-Point Source Analysis Lab html
Young's Experiment Lab html
Getting it Right With Light Lab html
Diluted by Distance Lab html
Color Addition Lab html
Taking Away from RGB Lab html
Painting with CMY Lab html
Filtering Away Lab html

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Reflection and Mirrors

Title of Lab Lab Description
Reflection Lab html
Plane Mirror Image Lab html
Rough versus Smooth Lab html
What Portion ...? Lab html
Right Angle Mirror Lab html
Improving Your Image Lab html
Infinity Derivation html
Exploring Curved Mirrors Lab html
Finding Smiley Lab html
Magnification Ratio Lab html
Mirror Equation Derivation html

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Refraction and Lenses

Title of Lab Lab Description
Refraction Action Lab html
Direction of Bending Lab html
Least Time Principle Lab html
How Much? Lab html
The Unknown n Lab html
R and R Lab html
A Critical Lab html
Exploring Lenses Lab html
The L•O•S•T Art of Image Description Lab html
The Lens Equation Lab html

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