You have probably made a paper airplane at some point in your lifetime, if you haven’t you will have an opportunity in this experiment. There are a couple of reasons we will use paper airplanes in this first experiment: 1) the materials are easy to gather, 2) the concepts are easy to understand so we can focus our attention on writing a proper laboratory report. We will be using the scientific method to design and complete the experiment.
In this case, as in many cases in science courses, the problem will be defined for you. The question that you will need to answer in your experiment is: How can we make a paper airplane fly farther? You will want to continue through the scientific method process to define YOUR problem specifically, as you can determine what variable to test. Remember, you will want a controlled experiment. You cannot test more than one variable at a time. Then, you can change your question to be more specific. If you were to test paper airplane weight, for example, your question would become “Does increasing the weight of a paper airplane make it fly farther?” You need to make sure your problem is defined well—but that might come after the background research.
A hypothesis is a possible solution to a problem or possible answer to a scientific question. This is based on prior knowledge and reasoned logic. In other words, it is an educated guess. Since you have just completed your background research on paper airplanes and refined the problem that you will study in completing the experiment, it is time now to create your hypothesis. Keep the following helpful hints in mind as you write your hypothesis.
You have now defined your problem, done your background research, and made a hypothesis. At this point, you probably have a good idea of what you need to do to test your hypothesis. Now it is time to put the final touches on your experimental design. Read through the slides below to make sure you have thought through all of the many parts of the experimental design. You will need to cover these sufficiently in your laboratory report.
Complete Your Experiment
Now it is time to put all this planning into action! Gather your materials and complete your experiment. Be very careful to take detailed notes and measurements in a notebook or journal. Make sure to keep all variables, except the manipulated variable, constant so that your results are reliable. Come back to the lesson when you are ready to write your laboratory report.
You will create your laboratory report in a word processing program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Make sure to cover each part of this in your Paper Airplane report that you write. Read through the slides below to see each part of the laboratory report and what to include in each part.
Procedure & Methods
Analysis and Results
Figures & Graphs
- What is a scientific discovery (whether discussed in this course or not) that would not have been possible without one of the important scientific discoveries discussed in this course?
- What is one way that the study of physics can help explain phenomena in a seemingly unrelated field, like biology?
- Aside from becoming a physicist, what is one career path that could be helped by a strong understanding of physics?
- What is an example of a scientific topic that requires knowledge of at least two different branches of physics?
- How has an advancement in physics impacted your day-to-day life?
- How would you differentiate between a theory and a hypothesis, when reading a scientific text?
- When you are reading the results of scientific experiments, what are some features that you would expect to see in the design of a high-quality experiment?
- What is one way that complete and accurate laboratory reports help prevent bias and fraud from influencing scientific findings?
- How does improving measurement accuracy help provide more valid scientific results? How does improving measurement precision help provide more valid scientific results?
- Gerard is measuring the speed of a remote-controlled airplane. He measures that the airplane travels 110 m in 5.4 seconds, giving a speed of 20 m/s. What will Gerard need to change, if he wants to get a more precise value for speed?
- Which of the following values has the greatest number of significant figures? Justify your answer?
- Consider the following data set. What would this data set look like if the measurements were more precise?
Time (mm:ss) Mass (g)
- Gina has measured that the average voltage across a chemical battery she built is 2.21 volts. If the actual value is 2.04 volts, what is Gina’s percent error?
- A team of engineers is measuring the strength of a new material. They have measured the strength to be 112,000 Pa. If the engineers expect a measurement error of 2.5%, what is the range of likely values for the actual strength of the material?
- Find the area enclosed by a rectangle that is 1300 m wide and 1630 m long. Write your answer so that it has the correct number of significant figures.
Grading Scheme: (3 points per question)
For calculation questions:
• 1 point for correct for formula(s)
• 1 point for correct substitution
• 1 point for correct answer
For explanation short answer questions:
• 1 point for correct terminology/concept
• 1 point for clarity
• 1 point for completeness
- In the United States, we often use the imperial system of measures. In the imperial system, distance, for example, is measured in units of inches, feet, yards, and miles. Explain how the metric system, with its standardized prefixes, make unit conversions simpler.
- Give an example of a time when it is helpful to use scientific notation, and an example of time when it is not.
- Why are scatter plots helpful in quickly determining a qualitative relationship that may exist in a data set?
- Anthony and a friend from physics class are talking about scalars and vectors. Anthony argues that scalars are not useful, because they always contain less information than vectors. Is this an accurate statement? Explain your answer.
- Clarence is taking his dog for a walk around town. After wandering around for an hour, his mother calls him, telling him dinner will be served soon, and asks him how far away he is. What value would be more helpful for him to give, his distance or his displacement? Explain your answer.
- Sheila received a speeding ticket when she was driving to her job. Was this ticket issued due to her average velocity during her drive or her instantaneous velocity. Explain your answer?
- Does a negative value for acceleration always mean that the object is slowing down? Explain your answer.
- The tesla is an SI-derived unit for the strength of a magnetic field. A scientist measures a magnetic field of strength 12.4 microteslas. Express this value in the base unit of teslas, writing your answer in standard notation.
- Express the value 12.4 microteslas in the base unit of teslas, but write your answer in scientific notation.
- Cory is studying the relationship between the temperature (T) of water, and the volume (v) of a certain gas that can dissolve in the water. He comes up with the following equation that describes the relationship: v = 0.036T+0.21. What is the qualitative relationship that describes this quantitative relationship?
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- Regina has been monitoring the daily high temperature at her home for several years. Looking at the data, she sees that there is a very clear pattern of temperatures being high in the summer, decreasing during the fall, being low in the winter, and increasing during the spring. Based on this, what type of correlation is there between time and daily high temperature?
- Leslie’s cat walks 4 meters east, 3 meters south, 2 meters west, and 9 meters north. What is the cat’s distance and displacement at the end of this walk?
- Yesenia is driving her car north. In a period of 12.0 minutes, she covers a distance of 17.6 km. What is Yesenia’s average velocity in meters per second?
- Victor is driving south. He is travelling at 12 m/s, when he enters an area with a new speed limit. Aver a period of 6 seconds, his speed increases from 12 m/s to 29 m/s. What is Victor’s acceleration during this period?
- Lucile throws a water balloon off of the edge of a building. She throws it downward with a speed of 4.1 m/s. After 1.5 seconds, what is the balloon’s velocity?
- A rock breaks loose from the top of a 119 m cliff. How fast is the rock going when it reaches the ground below?
A group of physics students are on a bridge that is an unknown distance above the river below. They are dropping objects from the bridge platform and recording their results. Answer the following questions about their experiment.
- The students want to calculate how high the bridge is above the water. They are able to measure time accurate to the tenth of a second. How will this limit the precision of their height calculations?
- The students measure that it takes an object approximately 3.1 seconds to travel from the bridge to the water below. What is the height of the bridge?
- For the second part of the project, the students attach small paper parachutes to the objects. They find that the larger the area of the parachute, the longer it takes the objects to reach the water below. What is the qualitative relationship exhibited?
- The students want to draw a graph showing the velocity of the object with respect to time. What will the graph’s shape and slope be?
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