|Readymade Rocket Science |
Detailed Technical Information
Synopsis: We seek to address growing student dissatisfaction with the
laboratory portion of introductory physics courses. The
basic idea is to replace the traditional series of short
(three-hour) sessions with an ongoing project that covers
the entire semester, or a significant fraction thereof.
Students fashion simple water rockets from two-liter PET-plastic
soda bottles and other commonly available items. The rockets
are launched using a system based on pressurized air from a
bicycle pump. Each rocket is instrumented with a self-contained
electronic accelerometer, which acquires a record of acceleration
versus time throughout an approximately seven-second flight.
After the flight, the accelerometer is recovered and the data
is uploaded for subsequent analysis on personal computers
running MATLAB or a similar plotting and analysis package.
Students first learn to use their accelerometers in a set
of ground based experiments, before conducting a series of launches.
Please send comments, questions, and suggestions to: email@example.com
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