Show Your Students That Physics Matters

From kinematics to optics, Vernier sensors and technology help your students connect the dots between the classroom and the real world. Our physics products enable student and educator success so that you can spend less time troubleshooting and more time teaching your students about the scientific principles of the world around them. 

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We’re here to support you as an educator as you implement data-collection technology into your teaching. See how our products provide you with affordable classroom and laboratory solutions designed for student success.

Featured Physics Experiments

Accelerations in the Real World

The portability of the data-collection equipment makes it ideal for studying accelerations that occur outside the physics laboratory. Some interesting situations are the automobile and amusement park rides, as well as high-speed elevators, motorcycles, and go-carts.

An accelerometer measures the acceleration in a specific direction. You will need to choose an appropriate time scale and the direction in which to hold the Accelerometer to obtain meaningful information. Obtaining acceleration data from independent kinematics measurements can transform an informal study into an empirical evaluation of a mathematical model.

This lab highlights several situations where you can collect real-world acceleration data. A general procedure is given that you will modify depending on which study is performed. After the general procedure, you will find several suggestions for acceleration investigations. You will need to plan an experiment around the motion to be studied, adjusting data-collection parameters as needed.

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Pendulum Periods

A swinging pendulum keeps a very regular beat. It is so regular, in fact, that for many years the pendulum was the heart of clocks used in astronomical measurements at the Greenwich Observatory.

There are at least three things you could change about a pendulum that might affect the period (the time for one complete cycle):

  • the amplitude of the pendulum swing
  • the length of the pendulum, measured from the center of the pendulum bob to the point of support
  • the mass of the pendulum bob

To investigate the pendulum, you need to do a controlled experiment; that is, you need to make measurements, changing only one variable at a time. Conducting controlled experiments is a basic principle of scientific investigation.

In this experiment, you will use a Photogate to measure the period of one complete swing of a pendulum. By conducting a series of controlled experiments with the pendulum, you can determine how each of these quantities affects the period.

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Static and Kinetic Friction

If you try to slide a heavy box resting on the floor, you may find it difficult to get the box moving. Static friction is the force that counters your force on the box. If you apply a light horizontal push that does not move the box, the static friction force is also small and directly opposite to your push. If you push harder, the friction force increases to match the magnitude of your push. There is a limit to the magnitude of static friction, so eventually you may be able to apply a force larger than the maximum static force, and the box will move. The maximum static friction force is sometimes referred to as starting friction. We model static friction, Fstatic, with the inequality Fstatic ≤ µs N where µs is the coefficient of static friction and N is the normal force exerted by a surface on the object. The normal force is defined as the perpendicular component of the force exerted by the surface. In this case, the normal force is equal to the weight of the object.

Once the box starts to slide, you must continue to exert a force to keep the object moving, or friction will slow it to a stop. The friction acting on the box while it is moving is called kinetic friction. In order to slide the box with a constant velocity, a force equivalent to the force of kinetic friction must be applied. Kinetic friction is sometimes referred to as sliding friction. Both static and kinetic friction depend on the surfaces of the box and the floor, and on how hard the box and floor are pressed together. We model kinetic friction with Fkinetic = µk N, where µk is the coefficient of kinetic friction.

In this experiment, you will use a Dual-Range Force Sensor to study static friction and kinetic friction on a wooden block. A Motion Detector will also be used to analyze the kinetic friction acting on a sliding block.

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Centripetal Acceleration

The typical response when one hears the word acceleration is to think of an object changing its speed. You have also learned that velocity has both magnitude and direction. So, an object traveling at constant speed in a circular path is undergoing an acceleration. In this experiment you will develop an expression for this type of acceleration.

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Featured Software and Digital Curriculum

Vernier Video Analysis™

The Vernier Video Analysis app brings video analysis to your physics students in a dedicated and streamlined application. Compatible with Chromebooks™, the app engages your students in physics as they record and study motion using their own video clips.

Vernier Graphical Analysis™ Pro

With the new Graphical Analysis™ Pro app, users can insert, view, and sync a video to sensor data for inspection and analysis. This app is perfect for engaging students—either remotely or in the lab—in more advanced analysis of data from biology, chemistry, and physics experiments.

Pivot Interactives

Pivot Interactives is a powerful supplement to hands‑on experimentation, enabling students to vary experimental parameters one at a time to view results from a set of many recordings of the same experiment.