Development of Physics Lecture Demonstrations

LT Stephen Emerson, USN

Abstract: The Navy is actively involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, which is currently challenging the standard lecture environment. One method that has been proven successful is the use of multiple teaching aids. This thesis describes the development and optimization of four physics demonstrations to enhance lectures: (i) two identical-appearing pipes that have substantially different moments of inertia, (ii) optical refraction of two words by an acrylic cylinder, where one word appears inverted while the other does not, (iii) a hand crank electrical generator switchable across five different loads, and (iv) acoustical Helmholtz resonators with negligible geometrical neck lengths. In (i), homemade and commercial pairs of pipes are investigated and compared. In (ii), the audience is initially “tricked” into believing a false explanation, which offers an effective educational technique. The loads in (iii) include three different types of light bulbs which require different torques by the operator. Investigating demonstrations can sometimes lead to forefront research. Such is the case in (iv), which questions the validity of the standard assumption of the flow acting as a piston at the opening of a Helmholtz resonator. This issue has application to unwanted resonances that occur due to surface variations of submarines.

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Jul 11, 2015

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