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2010 Summer Meeting

2011 AAPT Summer Meeting
July 30-August 3, 2011
Omaha, Nebraska

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PST1D06:

Spring, String, and Inclined Plane: A Lab on Newton's Laws
  Location: KFC Courts
  Date: Monday, Aug.1
  Time: 8:45 PM -9:30 PM
  Author: Carl Mungan, United States Naval Academy
410-293-6680, mungan@usna.edu
  Co-Author(s): None
  Abstract: Students in an introductory physics course are typically presented with homework problems and lab work that separately involve strings (e.g. an Atwood's machine), inclined planes (e.g. conversion of gravitational to kinetic energy), and springs (e.g. oscillations of a mass hanging from a spring). But to fully develop student understanding of Newton's laws, it is important to combine elements to build up more complex situations. To this end, I propose tying together two blocks on an inclined plane and then attaching the upper block to a spring whose other end is fixed. Students can first be challenged to draw relevant free-body diagrams, initially ignoring drag. Next, if this setup is assembled in lab, even using low-friction motion carts instead of blocks, it is immediately observed that damping cannot be neglected. However, simple speed-independent friction fits the measurements well, so that analysis of the situation remains within student capabilities.
  Footnotes: None
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