Nothing gets a physics student’s attention like a lab involving a toy. These inexpensive, and easy to obtain, suction cup and a spring toys are a fun way to look at conservation of energy, Hooke’s Law, and spring constants.
Students calculate the spring constant using the law of conservation of energy. The teacher then disassembles a toy and the class collects and graphs data for Hooke’s law and determines the spring constant again for comparison.
Students use their cell phones to record the toy jumping in order to measure the jump height. They love seeing it in slow motion! It's a great way to meet the BYOD push.
This lab takes 90 minutes and is designed to be done over two class periods if you teach in a shorter block.
This activity is also appropriate for algebra 2. You would need to give them the equations, but it is an excellent example of setting equations equal to one another, graphing and using the slope to determine a physical constant.
This product includes information about where to get these toys (about 33 cents each), how to disassemble it to measure the spring constant directly, and includes a key with sample data.
• Hands on experience
• Cooperative Learning
• Law of conservation of energy
• Use of toys in physics
• Data Collection and Graphing
• Teacher instructions and set up
• Reinforcement of difficult concepts
• Student handouts
• Key and Sample data
Keywords: momentum, impulse, energy, potential, kinetic, spring, spring constant, elastic, elongation, stretch, compression, joule, meter, meter stick, technology, BYOD, AP Physics, STEM, energy conversion, Hooke's law, measurement, lab, experiment