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The Centripetal Force Apparatus Goes Wireless

Go Direct® Centripetal Force Apparatus

The new Go Direct® Centripetal Force Apparatus makes it easier than ever to investigate rotational dynamics. Students can investigate the relationships among force, mass, and radius wirelessly—all you need is the Go Direct Centripetal Force Apparatus, a Go Direct Force and Acceleration Sensor, and a device running our free Graphical Analysis 4 app. No additional interface is needed.

With Go Direct Force and Acceleration mounted on the apparatus’ beam, you are ready to investigate centripetal acceleration. Attach the mass carriage, and you can explore Newton’s second law as it applies to rotational dynamics. No tangled wires to worry about. All you need to do is slide the sensor onto the beam, attach the mass carriage, and secure the sensor at the desired location. Select the appropriate data-collection channels in Graphical Analysis 4 for your investigation: Z-axis gyro to capture angular velocity, X-axis acceleration for centripetal acceleration, and/or Force for centripetal force. Then, you’re ready to collect data. As you turn the spindle to rotate the beam, the sensor will apply the force necessary to pull the carriage in a circular motion.

Graph of force vs. angular velocity with a curve fit
Applying a curve fit to the raw data will provide students with clues to nature of this relationship.

The relationship can be further explored as students apply knowledge gained from the curve fit to linearize the data.

Graph of force vs. angular velocity linearized
Linearized data for a rotating mass. What are the units of the slope of the line? Can your students predict the mass given the position on the beam?

Students can quickly devise their own experiments to develop a model for the effect of mass or radius of rotation on the force, and then test the model. Select a mass and position and see if it matches their prediction.

Robotic Hand Project

We have had a lot of fun with the Robotic Hand project, which we discovered in the Hacking STEM Library from Microsoft®. Using our Low-g Accelerometer, an Arduino, and our Vernier Arduino Interface Shield, we modified the project to create an easier control system.

See instructions for building and controlling the hand »

Pivot Interactives Adds Chemistry

Have you ever done an experiment that you wish you could repeat with different chemicals or concentrations but lacked the time and materials? This is where Pivot Interactives new activities for chemistry can become a valuable teaching tool.

Pivot Interactives is a browser-based collection of videos and analysis tools that enable students to control real results—not simulations. The videos come with appropriate tools for measuring volume, mass, temperature, time, and even color intensity. There are additional tools to carefully control the progression of the video and experiment. Online tables and graphs are used for students to graph relationships between the variables being studied. Calculated columns can be built and graphed.

Students use Beer’s Law to measure the concentration of solutions.
Students use Beer’s law to measure the concentration of solutions.

Topics include Beer-Lambert law, acid-base titration, kinetics, rate laws and activation energy, gas laws, density, specific heat, and more.

Wait until you see how the “black box” around a colorimeter or spectrometer is stripped away to show the essence of how the device measures transmittance and absorbance. The students use their own eyes as the detector with a clever combination of tools and filters to determine the appropriate wavelength to use for the experiment.

See how Pivot Interactives can enhance your instruction and bring to life many concepts in your chemistry curriculum by signing up for a free 30-day trial.

Easily Record and Analyze EMGs with Go Direct® EKG

Normal and rectified EMGs recorded from the forearm
Normal and rectified EMGs recorded from the forearm

Many teachers are interested in using our EKG sensors to record an electromyogram (EMG), the electrical activity produced from muscle contractions. Recording an EMG is straightforward, but there are multiple ways that an EMG can be analyzed. The most robust technique is to measure the integral of the rectified EMG signal, which can easily be done using the Go Direct EKG Sensor.

A normal EMG has both positive and negative deflections. A rectified EMG uses a function that makes all of the EMG deflections positive—the larger the integral, the larger the muscle contraction. In the past, we have offered special Logger Pro and LabQuest files that provide the proper filtering and calculated column support to record and analyze rectified EMGs. But, the Go Direct EKG Sensor makes recording rectified EMGs much simpler. No special files or filter settings are required—just change the channel to EMG Rectified and start collecting data. Then simply measure the integral of the signal in Graphical Analysis.

The sample graph shows an example of an EMG and rectified EMG recorded from the forearm using Go Direct EKG. A digital high-pass filter that has been optimized for recording EMGs is automatically applied to the EMG channel. The EMG Rectified channel returns the absolute value of the EMG channel, making all of the EMG deflections positive.

To analyze the rectified EMGs, simply select the region of the rectified EMG you want to analyze and use the View Integral feature in Graphical Analysis 4. You can even compare the integrals of different rectified EMGs to see which condition produced less or more muscle activity. For example, in the sample graph, the area of the rectified EMG increases with each burst of activity. The first, second, and third rectified EMGs have areas of 0.181, 0.329, and 0.441 mV s.

If you have any questions about EMGs or human physiology, feel free to contact

What Are the Best Light Sources For Photosynthesis?

Photosynthetic organisms such as plants and algae use electromagnetic radiation from the visible spectrum to drive the synthesis of sugar molecules. Special pigments in chloroplasts of plant cells absorb the energy of certain wavelengths of light, causing a molecular chain reaction known as the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis. The best wavelengths of visible light for photosynthesis fall within the blue range (425–450 nm) and red range (600–700 nm). Therefore, the best light sources for photosynthesis should ideally emit light in the blue and red ranges. In this study, we used a Go Direct® SpectroVis® Plus Spectrophotometer with a Vernier Spectrophotometer Optical Fiber and LabQuest 2 to collect spectra from four different light sources. This allowed us to determine the wavelengths emitted by each source and to get an idea of their relative intensities.

Wavelengths of light outside of the red and blue ranges are not used by most plants, and can contribute to heat build-up in plant tissues. This heat can damage plants and even interfere with photosynthesis. In order to identify the ideal light source for photosynthesis studies we compared the output or emission spectra of four different E27 type bulbs in the same desk lamp: a) 60 W incandescent bulb, b) 35 W halogen bulb, c) 28 W-equivalent LED “plant bulb” (6–9 W), and d) 13 W compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb. Each light was measured at a standard distance of 50 cm.

Emission spectra graph comparing light sources.
Relative light intensity of four light bulbs across the visible spectrum

Based on our results, the best light bulb for promoting photosynthesis in plants was the LED plant bulb. This bulb produces a strong output in both the blue and red wavelengths, with very little additional light in other regions to cause heat build-up. All of the other light sources had very little output in the blue range. The halogen and incandescent bulbs had extremely broad output ranges from green to deep into the red portion of the spectrum, but with little to nothing in the blue range. The least suitable lamp for photosynthesis was the CFL bulb. While it emitted some light in both the blue and red ranges (with several peaks in between), the intensity of this bulb was the weakest when compared to all the other lamps. LED plant lights are available from a variety of online merchants and home and garden stores. They have become very affordable, and work well for experiments that investigate photosynthesis.

Vernier in the Physics Journals (Fall 2018)

Physics Meets Art in the General Education Core

Marta L. Dark and Derrick J. Hylton; Journal of College Science Teaching, 2018, (47) 3.

If you take the Physics and the Arts course at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, you will be exposed to many applications of a traditional physics class as they apply to various areas in the arts. Light, color, sound, gravity, equilibrium, and space time are some of the topics that are explored. Students explore the topics with a guided inquiry approach. At the end of the course, students create artwork that illustrates a physical concept. Students use a Go Direct® SpectroVis® Plus Spectrophotometer and Logger Pro 3 software while they study aspects of color and light.

Enhancing a Scientific Inquiry Lesson Through Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning

Kathleen Koenig, Janet Mannheimer Zydney, Doug Behr, and Lei Bao; Science Scope, September, 2017.

In this guided inquiry activity, students learn about energy transformations as they apply to renewable energy. Students use the KidWind Basic Wind Experiment Kit to design windmill turbines that result in the highest energy output. The students research about how windmill blades work, and brainstorm which designs are most likely to produce the highest output. Students are expected to be able to identify controls, independent variables, and dependent variables. They also demonstrate how they control those variables in their designs. They develop prototypes that they test with a box fan. After initial tests, they modify their design to improve energy output. This project is closely linked to NGSS and CAST standards.

Where Does The Energy Go?

Marta R. Stoeckel (Tartan High School, Oakdale, MN); The Science Teacher, Vol. 85, No. 1, January, 2018.

This article explains how to use evidence-based reasoning to study the bounce of a ball. It is linked to NGSS standards and the authors use Logger Pro 3 video analysis to plot a ball’s position.

Burst Mode Composite Photography for Dynamic Physics Demonstrations

James Lincoln; The Physics Teacher, May, 2018.

Many digital cameras, and even camera phones, have “burst mode.” This allows the cameras to take a series of photos in rapid succession. The author explains how to take and composite these photos, which results in one image showing the photos overlaid. If a moving object is in the scene, you can use our photo analysis to get distance, velocity, and acceleration data of that image.

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