Labs for Circular and Satellite Motion

Lesson Plans || Learning Outcomes and Activities || Teacher Notes || Labs


We have a collection of ~150 labs in the Laboratory section of the website. Each lab was intended to be used with a lab notebook where students report their data and findings and state their conclusion with supporting evidence and reasoning. The intent was to provide a relatively clear purpose (or question) to students that they would need to address AND to limit the amount of directions. The hope is that the purposes and students' ability to design a procedure would drive the lab activity (in contrast to a detailed set of step-by-step procedures being the driving force of students' activity). As such, each of our labs comes with a Question and Purpose and a short paragraph describing what should be included in students' lab report. On occassion, students are also provided a graphic organizer, data table, or other item to be taped into their notebook. The following pages may be useful for those teachers who wish to adopt or simply trial our Labs with a Purpose approach:

Our Thoughts on the Approach || About Lab Notebooks || Teacher Guides for All Labs



Lab 1 - Making the Turn

What is the direction of the velocity of and the net force upon a passenger in a car which is making a left hand turn?

To describe the direction of the velocity of and the net force on a passenger in a car which is making a left hand turn - with and without a car door.

A complete lab write-up includes a Title, Purpose, Data section, and a Conclusion/Discussion of Results. The Data section should include an organized and informative record of your observations of the motion of the ball relative to the board using both words and a diagram. The Conclusion/Discussion should answer the question posed in the Purpose and cite the evidence (observations) which support such a conclusion.


Lab 2: Loop the Loop

How does the strength of the tension force on a bucket when at the top of a vertical loop compare to the strength of the tension force when at the bottom of the loop?

To determine the relative strength of the tension force on a bucket when it is at the top and at the bottom of the vertical loop through which it moves.

A complete lab write-up includes a Title, a Purpose, a Data section, a Conclusion/Discussion of Results and Post-Lab Questions. The Data section should include an organized and informative record of your observations of the tightness of the string around your hand for the two locations. The Conclusion/Discussion should discuss and answer the question raised in the Purpose of the lab. And the Post-Lab Questions section should included the provided page of post-lab analysis questions.


Also Available ...

Physics teachers may find the following for-sale tools to be useful supplements to our Lesson Plan and Pacing Guide section:


  1. Task Tracker Subscription (annual purchase)
    A subscription allows teachers to set up classes, add students, customize online assignments, view student progress/scores, and export student scores. Task Tracker accounts allow your students to begin assignments in class or at school and to finish them at home. View our Seat and Cost Calculator for pricing details.
  2. The Solutions Guide
    We publish a free curriculum with >200 ready-to-use Think Sheets for developing physics concepts. The Solutions Guide is a download containing the source documents, PDFs of source documents, and answers/solutions in MS Word and PDF format. An expanded license agreement is included with the purchase. (Cost: $25 download)
  3. Teacher Presentation Pack
    This is a large collection of downloadable content packed with nearly 190 Microsoft PowerPoint slide decks, the corresponding Lesson Notes (as PDF and fully-modifiable MS Word format), about 170 animations (in .gif, .png, and .mp4 file formats), a countless number of ready-to-use images (including the original source documents that would allow for easy modification of those images), and a license that allows teachers to modify and use all the content with their classes on password-protected sites (such as course management systems).  (Cost: $40 download)
  4. Question Bank
    We distribute a Question Bank that includes more than 9300 questions neatly organized according to topic. The Question Bank is the perfect tool for busy teachers or new teachers. Even if you don't use the website with your classes, the Question Bank will assist you in quickly putting together quizzes, tests and other documents with high-quality questions that target student's conceptions of physics principles. And if you do use The Physics Classroom website, the Question Bank is the perfect complement to the materials found at the website. (Cost: $25 download)