Chronology Current Month Current Thread Current Date
[Year List] [Month List (current year)] [Date Index] [Thread Index] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Prev] [Date Next]


We mounted our blowers in the basement below the lab and then used large diameter plastic pipe through holes in the floor to reach the air tracks. We installed some wiring so they could be turned on or off from the lab. It was all done as a major redesign of the labs. In recent years we have gone to the airless tracks.


Joseph J. Bellina, Jr. Ph.D.
Professor of Physics
Saint Mary's College
Notre Dame, IN 46556

On Dec 5, 2006, at 12:10 AM, Bernard Cleyet wrote:

The air tracks at UCSC are powered by one big blower (cap for ~ 20
simultaneously) in a distant room. the ones (blowers) formerly at UCB
(I have two of them) were from Sears intended for remote use (low
potential powered relay) in more affluent homes. The people at Berkeley
put them in double walled wooden boxes acoustic blanket under the lab
tables (four sufficed a large lab.). I happened to, much earlier, visit
the lab. and noticed they were quieter than the students'
conversations. I have two blowers one of which I will donate for
shipping and at least four of their "home built" tracks. The are
superior (much) to the commercial ones as they are troughs (U shape,
flat bottom , of course) and therefore insensitive to rough handling. I
would have their timers to give, but before I could grab them only four
were left. I have tons of their photogates tho. Someone who is poverty
stricken (the school i.e.), and is mechanoelectric adept could use them,
otherwise, forget it. I have the carts hidden somewhere in the garage.
I bump into the tracks and blowers every day.

Maybe simulation teaches F=ma but can never, well hardly ever?, teach
lab techniques, etc.

bc, who thinks at the rate we're going the US will only have theoreticians.

p.s. Perhaps one advantage of the low friction carts (not air) is the
greater friction will be heuristic.

John Clement wrote:

Then there is the alternative of using simulations. There is published
evidence in AJP that simulations actually help students understand the
physical situations better than using real lab equipment. They found that
students who trained on simulated circuits could build real circuits faster
than students who trained on the real thing.

If you already have the computers simulations are cheap and do not need ear
plugs. Whether or not these results hold up for other curricula has not
been published. I suspect that interacting with real equipment might be
somewhat beneficial to very advanced students, but detrimental to lower
level students. The inability to discriminate between noise and data
retards the performance of lower level students. So simulations can remove
a distraction that blocks performance of some students. They also can show
data that can not be easily acquired in the lab.

John M. Clement
Houston, TX

I'd vote for the carts with metal tracks. We use the Pasco product. For
conservation of momentum, carefull students will get a %Error of less than
5%. I think the vernier tracks can be expanded to be used as an optics
bench. However, I think Pasco sells some less expensive carts (as well as
some more expensive carts).

With Air tracks you would need an additional power source and ear- plugs.

Paul Lulai
Physics Teacher & Online Learning Coordinator
St. Anthony Village Senior High
Saint Anthony Village, MN
(w) 612-706-1144
(fax) 612-706-1020

Forum for Physics Educators

Forum for Physics Educators