Physics Lab 1: Zoooooooom!
How fast is fast?
by
Veronica Davis (Cornell University)
·
Identify how to
determine an object’s speed
·
Determine lab procedure
to calculate an object’s average speed
·
Understand the
difference between speed and velocity
1. What is a reference point?
An object that appears to stay in place in
relation to an object being observed for motion.
2. What two things must you know to determine speed?
Total distance traveled
Total time to travel that distance
3. What is the difference between speed and velocity?
Speed is the rate at which an object moves. Velocity is the speed of an object in a
particular direction.
Materials
·
Toy car
·
Meter stick
·
Stopwatch
·
Masking Tape
In your groups of three, discuss and write
down the procedure to determine the average speed of your toy car.
Give students 15 minutes in their group to come up with lab
procedures. If they are having problems
refer them to Prelab question number 2.
Class Discussion. As a class we will decide on standard
procedures to determine the average speed.
Before giving them the procedure below, have them
share their procedures.
1. Place
a piece of masking tape on the floor and label it reference point.
2. Place
the front of the car at the starting point
3. Group
member 1 will count to three. On three, group member 2 will push the car and
group member 3 will start timing.
4. At
the moment the car stops, group member 3 will stop timing.
5. Mark
the final location of the car and measure the distance (in meters) from the
starting point.
6. In
the table record the distance the car traveled and the time to travel that
distance.
7. Calculate
speed.
For Velocity: it’s the average speed, with the
direction specified. Be sure to show
the students which direction is North.
Perform the
procedures we determined as a class three times. Record all you data in table below. Be sure to include the units.
Trial Number 
Distance 
Time 
Average
Speed 
Average
Velocity 
1 




2 




3 




For each trial, have students note who pushed the
car, who timed the car, and who measured the distance. The students should rotate through each
position.