Centripetally Yours

donna_giachettiBy:  Donna Giachetti

Around the EI offices lately, something magical has happening.  Folks are laughing more… There’s a lighter spring in their step and a happy-go-lucky chirp in their voices…  It’s as if we have all become enchanted.

Well, let me amend that…

EI employees are a very grown-up, responsible bunch.  They take pride in doing their jobs as well as humanly possible.  If you haven’t yet read Ted’s blog (EI’s Pick-and-Pack Customer Service Crew), don’t miss out!  It’s a paean to the hardest working group of individuals I have ever met.

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Teaching Newton’s Laws Easily

Misstamiile-aneous Scientific Principles | Teaching Newton’s Laws Easily

by: Tami O’Connor

One of the things I enjoy most about my job at Educational Innovations is conducting teacher workshops.  It’s not quite the same as being in the classroom in front of twenty-plus students, but it’s fun nonetheless.  My favorite presentation is titled, 3-2-1 Blastoff!  In it, we deal with energy, forces, and motion.  I use the Mighty Missile Launcher to demonstrate these topics.

It is exactly that…  a missile launcher.  The good news is this missile launcher can be used safely in a classroom with children from kindergarten to High School. Participants need safety glasses or goggles.

The launcher is primarily constructed of a film canister, a straw, and a balloon. The balloon has a sponge-like material inside that functions to re-inflate the balloon quickly.  The balloon is attached to the film canister so little air is able to escape.  The film canister pivots, allowing you to aim it at differing angles.  The four missiles are simply straws, sealed on one end, with foam fins that stabilize them as they fly through the air.teaching newtown's laws

I first demonstrate how the missile is launched.  The missile is loaded onto the launcher by sliding it onto the straw that is slightly less narrow than the missile.  Since the balloon is connected to the film canister, air can flow easily between the two.  Depressing the balloon forces air into the film canister and out through the attached straw.  When a missile is loaded onto the straw, the forced air propels it into the air.  The harder and more quickly the balloon is squeezed, the faster the air flows into the missile.Newton's Laws 1

Next, I make groups of three or four individuals, and I challenge my teachers to consistently land three out of four missiles inside a target area 1 meter away.  Seems like a cinch, right?  Not so fast…  As with every good science activity, there are several variables that must be controlled.  The first is the force at which the missile is launched.  The harder and faster the balloon is squeezed, the faster the air is compressed and the farther the missile travels.  The second is the angle at which the film canister points.  The greater the angle, the higher and shorter (in horizontal distance) the missile travels.


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Micro LEDs and Motion

Bruce Yeanyby: Bruce Yeany

The micro LED lights  known as Rave lights have become popular with students at dances and parties.   With the  lights turned down, kids have these lights on their hands or in gloves, and the results are totally awesome when they wave their hands around.  Watching this phenomenon takes me back to the era of the disco ball and laser light shows.  It became apparent to me that these little lights would be fantastic when incorporated into the study of motion. Using these lights and a digital camera, it would be fairly easy to record the motion of moving objects for closer study.  Rolling, spinning , swinging, falling, projectile motion, etc. can all be captured using a camera and these little lights.

Can you figure out how these were done?

Micro LEDs and Motion

Moving Lights

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Phenomenon Of The Disappearing Dot! – Is it Physics, or Math, or Perception?

Lee Walkerby: Lee Walker and Partnership for Learning.com, LLC

Use a hack saw to cut a 2¼ to 2½  inch length of ¾ inch outside diameter PVC pipe.  The point is for the tube to be three times the length of its diameter. While 2¼ inches is more precise, it is fine to fudge just an extra ¼ inch. Trust me, it’s close enough.  Next put a green dot at one end and a red dot on the other (see photo). I like to drill two small depressions and put the paint in those two shallow holes (don’t drill through).

PhysicsQuest 2010: Spectra's Force Disappearing DotSet the cylinder down in front of you on a nice smooth surface.  You will need plenty of room as you develop the operational skills, so a reasonably smooth desk or table top should be fine.

Now, place the tip of your index finger on the red dot. It works just fine on the green one, but let’s have the first run match the PhysicsQuest 2010: Spectra's Force Disappearing Dotphotographs. If you force down your finger as you pull it slightly back toward you, the cylinder will spin rapidly around a horizontal axis in your direction. You can visualize the action around this axis by imagining the cylinder seen from one end so that it would look like a spinning wheel.

The two drawings below show how the cylinder, viewed from the end, rolls (spins) around a horizontal axis in a direction toward the finger thatsnaps downward (though sliding away at the same time).  As this is going on, (see the drawing on the left) the end that had the fingertip on it, rotates around a vertical axis in a direction away from the fingertip. Read the rest of this entry »