- 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.
Go to the Electronics unit now.
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?
Go to the Mechanics unit now.
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.
Go to the Heat & Temperature unit now.
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
Go to the Advanced Mechanics unit now.
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.
Go to the Sound unit now.
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.
Go to the Light unit now.
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