We are following the Argument Driven Inquiry format for this lab. The Guiding Question is: What factors affect the acceleration of a system? After a pre-lab demonstration (one student using a spring scale and rope to pull on another student riding a skateboard with a constant force), the class created a list of factors that could influence the acceleration of a system. We then chose to investigate this question by studying the relationship between force and acceleration, with the goal of finding how the other factors that students came up with (friction, mass, air resistance, angle of the track) affect the acceleration was well by analyzing the slope and intercept of the graph.
This lab also presented an interesting materials challenge. We didn’t have enough pulley brackets or end stops for the full class. I was able to 3D print enough of each. My wife also helped me design a “sled” that I 3D printed to hold the weights on the cart, instead of taping or bolting the container for our weight sets onto the cart. I was only able to 3D print a few of these this year (each print is 8 hours), but plan to print enough to use them on all of our cars next year. If you have access to a 3D printer, here’s a link to the .stl file. I printed mine in PLA on a Monoprice Mini ($200 on Amazon!). The print bed of my printer is 4.5″, which limited the size I was able to make it. It fits both the old and new Vernier Dynamics carts.