- Unit Summaries -

Six Hands-On-Physics units are currently available. They may be used in physics programs in a variety of ways. The Electronics unit serves as an introductory unit. The other units are quite independent and can be used singly or in combination.

Electronics: Security System

This is an introduction to circuits and electronics set in the context of creating a building security system. The simplest system consists of switches, a power supply, and a buzzer. You will gain familiarity with interpreting schematics, using breadboards, using meters, and debugging circuits. You will build a power supply used in later HOP units. Physics concepts include electrical terms, an introduction to solid state, and an introduction to experimental skills.
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Mechanics: Aircart

The study of motion is motivated in part by the human desire to move things from one place to another. Designing transportation systems requires an understanding of some basic ideas of physics. In this unit you build an aircart, decide what attributes of the cart are pertinent, and what variables are important for the description of motion. Determining a set of variables along with the relationships between them is the primary work of creating a model. With a good model in hand, design work can proceed. What transportation problems could an aircart solve? What are its drawbacks?
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Heat & Temperature: Incubator

This Unit explores several key ideas concerning the measurement and control of heat. Feedback is a theme which threads through the history of our study of heat. Feedback is at work in thermostats, homiostatis, and heat engines. Several projects help students understand heat. We start by learning how to measure temperature and then go on to how to control it. As the unit unfolds, you are introduced to the major concepts of heat and temperature that are usually taught in physics, but through a series of interesting projects.
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Advanced Mechanics: Bungee Escape

The driving question is whether it is safe to use bungee cords as an emergency escape from a burning building. This project introduces Newtonian dynamics in the context of a bungee jump. Students can use three methods for recording data: electronic, video-based, or MBL. In the electronic approach, time is measured by charging a capacitor and the experiment must be repeated many times. In the video approach, CamMotion is used to analyze digital images converted from a video recording of a single jump. Interactive Physics and spreasheets are used to simulate the
system. MBL can be used with a series of photogates to measure times during the fall.
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Sound: Synthesizer

An introduction to waves, with an emphasis on electronics, the work of this unit centers on the construction of a tone generator and an intensity meter. The tone generator is expanded to become a "music" synthesizer. You use the intensity meter for investigating sound intensity changes in both open and closed spaces. You are then encouraged to develop experiments to study wave properties, and the feasibility of "seeing" with sound.
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Light: Sun Photometer

The amount of haze in the atmosphere is increasing for reasons that are not fully understood. In this unit, you build optical sensors that can be used to infer haze levels and contribute your data to an international haze monitoring network. This work involves understanding the physics of light with an emphasis on wavelengths, adsorption, scattering, and photon energy. The unit introduces an amplifier and the concept of amplification. Messing Around Investigate LEDs as lights. Measure the forward voltage for red, yellow, green, and blue LEDs. Look at the spectrum and polarization of the sun, LEDs, flames, other sources, and of scattered light using different kinds of scattering.
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