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October 10, 2010

For over a year now, I’ve had a YouTube channel. I use it for school-related stuff, and it has wound up being a little eclectic. It has some footage of amusement park rides, with and without accelerometers. It has footage from the “Physics of Vaudeville” show at last summer’s AAPT meeting in Portland, OR. It also has the “Pitagora Suicchi” (ピタゴラ スイッチ) machines my conceptual classes made last year. The students had to include three of the six simple machines and end with the “Pitagora Suicchi” flag being raised.

This fall I have already added “The Mystery Box” and “Data Analysis in Excel” (175 views already! I hope it is useful!) and some footage from my trip to Maker Faire a couple of weeks ago. I hope to add more soon – in particular I would like to include footage of the constant-acceleration lab my kids do so that it can be used for video analysis.

I do constant acceleration with equipment Rex Rice taught me to use when I took my first Modeling workshop about 15 years ago. Instead of a cart rolling down a ramp, the “ramp” is made with two pieces of conduit held apart by a couple of wooden blocks with holes drilled in them the same distance apart on each. Instead of a cart, a disk with an “axle” made from golf tees is set between the conduits. Then students let go the disk and start timing at the same time. Every two seconds, they can make a mark on the conduit with a dry-erase marker where the front of the disk is. Then they measure the total distance traveled from the start location for every time-mark. This procedure lets “time” be the independent variable and “distance” (or “position,” if you prefer—with my conceptual-level kids we use the terms interchangeably though I wouldn’t with honors-level kids) as the dependent variable, and it makes sense to make a distance-vs.-time graph based on the rules we established in unit 1 about dealing with data.

I had one group get especially good data this year…A really beautiful graph.  Some kids just naturally take precise data and some kids just don’t see the point.  Anyway, this lab is next on my video agenda.

I know Frank Noschese collects interesting videos for kids to examine for “good” physics or “bad” physics.  Is there an archive or list somewhere of good videos for video analysis?  I have a bunch of circular motion videos I plan to upload at some time, also, and I’d like people to be able to use them if they find it useful to do so.  Let me know in the comments!

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