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Creating a physics lab

  1. May 23, 2007 #1
    after the ap exam, our teacher is making us create our a physics lab touching on one or more of the ap topics (we want to stick to force/kinematics/easier topics). i'm working with another person, and we're having a hard time thinking of a lab that wouldn't be too difficult to set up. (we don't have a lot of equipment.) i had the idea of measuring the frictional force on the pool table top, but we're still looking for other ideas (which aren't too overused/done in class). does anyone know how to go about doing to pool table friction lab, or do you guys have any other ideas?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 24, 2007 #2
    I might shy away from a friction lab because friction is somewhat of a pain to work with in the lab. I suggest that you look at laws and equations under those sections and think of ways which they could visually be represented.
  4. May 24, 2007 #3


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    From a thread I just read, you might try the simple pendulum expermient and see how the actual results match with the small angle approximation. For what values of initial amplitudes do you get an error of say, 20 percent?

    If you know calculus, you can set up the differential equation and try solving it to get a more accurate prediction and see how it matches with your experiment.

    There's loads one can do with the simple pendulum.
    Last edited: May 24, 2007
  5. May 24, 2007 #4


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    I'm not sure what is on the course syllabus that you are taking, but standard experiments such as investigating mass-spring systems for SHM are easy to do. Also one might consider investigating resistivity or capacitor charging and discharging rates.
  6. May 24, 2007 #5
    why would friction be a pain to work with? (i'm curious because it turns out we're measuring the coef. of kinetic fric between an incline plane and a block connected to a pulley, etc.)
  7. Jun 1, 2007 #6
    I was a math major and took a lot of physics also. In the 6-hour physics course in my senior year, I and my partner did the Milikan Oil Drop experiment to measure the charge on an electron, the Foucault rotating mirror experiment to measure the speed of light and the Cavandish Balance experiment to measure the gravitational constant. We got three-place accuracy on all three. Why are you looking for something simple? Why don't you have equipment to do some of these? I've always been REALLY glad that I got to do these experiments and verify for myself that they really work.

    (If you try the Millikan oil drop experiment, note that you have to take into account the viscosity of air. That fact is omitted in many physics books...)
  8. Jun 7, 2007 #7
    try finding the constants of static and kinetic friction between two surfaces.
    use a spring connected to an object resting on a skateboard or something like that.
    start pulling it slightly and record the value that the spring reads when is starts to move.

    i have tried it and the result came about very reasonable.
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