This lesson was created as a part of the SMART website and is hosted by the Illinois Institute of Technology

This is a one year course taking you from Mechanics through Waves, Electricity and Magnetism to Modern Physics. The course emphasises learning through experimentation with students following the Modeling Method developed by Arizona State University under a grant from the National Science Foundation.

  1. In the Modeling Method, students design an experiment and then use the computer interface to gather and analyze the data from the experiment. Data such as distance, force, velocity, time and much more all in real-time can be taken through the use of sensors that take the measurements. Students then construct an accurate mathematical model of the phenomena. They present their findings in groups of three using white-boards. The teacher guides student inquiry with "Socratic'' questioning and remarks with an eye to improving the quality of student discourse by insisting on accurate use of scientific terms, on clarity and cogency. This is accomplished by questioning and critiquing from students and teacher. This method shows students precisely how to conduct scientific inquiry systematically.
  2. Content of the entire first semester course (mechanics) is reorganized around five basic models to increase its structural coherence:


Roller coaster ride

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I.   . Set mass, gravity and friction at 50% and leave them unchanged until otherwise informed. Adjust height of hill 1to be twice that of hill 2 . Make height of  loop 80% of hill 2.

II.  Tap the green button to activate the run. Make sure the car runs the entire course, otherwise fine- tune  height settings. Once car is running, tapping the pause button allows you to read speed values. To answer the questions, pause the car at the points mentioned in the table.


TOP OF      
  1. Make a conclusion about the speeds from Row 2 of table
  2. Why is the speed reading greater at top of hill2 than hill1?
  3. Where does the car have maximum kinetic energy( KE), potential energy (PE)? 
  4. Write a paragraph using the words, speed, KE, PE, Conservation of energy, to describe the car's run from start to finish.
  5. The variables  we have the power to vary( even though we kept them fixed) are called  the  independent variables. List them.


III.  Reduce friction to 25%.Explain what changes, if anything.

IV.  Increase friction to 75%. Freeze the car at top of hill 2. Compare the speed there with that of the corresponding previous trial (Table). Explain.

V.  What is the result of increasing the value of gravity? Progressively increase it to 75%, 100% and note what happens each time.

VI.  With gravity set at 75%, what changes can you make (if any) to the values of friction, speed, mass to make the car run the entire course?    Explain.

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