Kit experiments in Waves

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Home kit-based college physics experiments
The Course

What is usually done in labs on campus. Rationale for doing certain things.

The Kit

Materials sent to each of the 20 students in the course in Jan 2021:
2 hacksaw blades
1 slinky
2 rubber bands
6m string
3 springs

Home kit-based experiments

The kit sent was very simple. However, students were able to do expts on simple harmonic motion, coupled oscillators, and superposition of acoustic waves. They were able to use Tracker software to observe SHM and also coupled oscillations and measure the coupling constant. Students were able to measure beats in acoustic waves and also the interference of acoustic waves using the microphone on a mobile device and then plot the change in sound intensity in dB. These expts complemented the qualitative expts students did with coupled hacksaw blades (2 blades connected by a rubber band) and with Lissajous pendulums.

Experiment 1- SHM


Example student report

Experiment 2 – Coupled oscillators

Reception and feedback

Many students said that the experiments took a lot of time, but they found them useful and engaging. They enlisted the help of siblings and other family members to help them do the experiments, most of which require groups of at least 2-3 students to do effectively in a traditional lab setting. I found that one can stick to the rigor one would expect in university lab settings by having students use technology at their disposal such as mobile phones. Many of these home experiments can be done even during an in-person semester. This may allow students to explore the phenomena at their leisure, which they may not be able to do during a standard 3-hr lab session.

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