Snow Day 4: whirlygigs
So, fresh off today’s foray into online classes, I started to wonder how I might be able to conduct a lab online. Yes, school was canceled for a fourth day in a row. I acutally had a student write me today saying she couldn’t wait to try out a new note taking technique—things are starting to get serious here in the ATL.
This got me thinking, and wanting to find a fun, scientific project we could do together with minimal time and supply requirements. I remembered a wonderful activity Tyler Rice did with whirlygigs to kick off his classes. This is why I love blogging and find it to be a net time saver. I didn’t have to write up a whole lab, or spend hours searching through paper lab manuals. I remembered Tyler’s cool idea, googled it, and was ready to go in five minutes. Hopefully, one of my blog posts does the same for someone else.
Here’s the challenge I just sent out:
Thanks to those of you that turned out to learn more about the physics of cold today. I had a great time, and you should feel free to check the video/discussion out own your own if you’re curious about how we came to invent air conditioning, refrigeration, or cool atoms to within millionths of a degree of absolute zero.
In the hopes of giving you a chance to explore another set of ideas that you might find interesting, I thought today, we might try a little home experiment, with a technological twist. Let’s learn to build a whirlygig.
Don’t know what a whirlygig is? Check out this simple, easy to follow diagram:
All you need is a sheet of plain paper and some scissors, and you’ll be off exploring.
Once you’ve build your whirlygig, my question is, “What can you do with this?”
How can you design a whirlygig to stay up in the air for the longest possible time?
How can you explain this system with physics? What models are appropriate? Graphs? Diagrams?
If you’re interested in exploring this, I’m going to post a few more directions on the blog, and ask that you post your discusison/questions/thoughts there.
Also, when you think you’ve got a record whirlygig, film its fall, upload it to youtube, and share the link with the blog.
Finally, after spending part of the day testing these things out, we’ll see just how well you understand them. At 4pm tomorrow, I’ll issue a challenge, asking you to make (and film) a whirly gig that lands on the ground in a specific time (eg. 2.5±0.1s). You can do all the calculations you want to make this prediction, but you can only drop your whirlygig once. Film it and upload it to youtube to show your mastery.
So who’s game?
Here’s a video I put together to show this project to my students as well. Again, total time to put all this together (email+video+blog post) < 30 minutes.