The Physics Circus

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 March 2012 15:47

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The Physics Circus is an educational outreach activity of the UTEP Chapter of SPS.  For the benefit of teachers or administrators who have either arranged or plan to arrange a Physics Circus, the content of a typical show is provided here. 

20 minutes:  Angular Momentum
Roller races
Rotating platform with weights
Bicycle wheel Gyroscope
Bicycle wheel gyroscope on rotating platform

30 minutes:  Electricity
PVC pipe and fur polarize and attract rolling soda can
Magnet and non-magnet fall through copper pipes at startlingly different rates
Electromagnetic ring launcher
EM ring launcher lights incandescent
Mini-Tesla coil lights fluorescent
BIG tesla coil makes 8 inch lightening

10 minutes Bed of nails
Lying on bed of nails shows force spread out over surface area
Breaking a concrete block on the chest of volunteer lying on bed of nails demonstrates:
inertia, conservation of energy, a good deal of nerve.

10-15 Liquid nitrogen (if available)
Collapse/reinflate balloon placed in LN2
Banana frozen in LN2 hard enough to pound a nail
Racquet ball frozen in LN2 shatters like glass
Boiling water  poured in to LN2 produces harmless rolling clouds

5 minutes  Singing Pipes/Standing Waves (if space permits open flame)
Requires ignition of high intensity gas burner

Below are some photos of these activities along with a description for each activity of the relevant TEKS (Texas Essential Knowlege and Skills).

Racing Rollers:  How different moments of inertia lead to faster or slower rollers

TEKS §112.39. Physics, Beginning with School Year 2010-2011
(c)  Knowledge and skills.
      (4)  Science concepts. The student knows and applies the laws governing motion in a variety of situations. The student is expected to:
           (C)  analyze and describe accelerated motion in two dimensions using equations, including projectile and circular examples;

racingrollers

 

Getting Dizzy:  How changing your moment of inertia changes your rotation

TEKS §112.39. Physics, Beginning with School Year 2010-2011
(c)  Knowledge and skills.
      (4)  Science concepts. The student knows and applies the laws governing motion in a variety of situations. The student is expected to:
           (C)  analyze and describe accelerated motion in two dimensions using equations, including projectile and circular examples;

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