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A Den of Inquiry is a collection of materials for introductory physics, starting with a book of laboratory activities.
Our activities pay a lot of attention to data and data analysis.
Choose a topic from the menu at left.
We are grateful to Celia Stevenson for her excellent work at digital furniture refinishing, because doing all that sanding and staining in analog would have been a real pain.
Letters from the Field
25 September 2007. Dedra Demaree wrote,
...for the 2nd year in a row I've started my intro calc-based physics class with the measuring paragraphs activity. Last year was at my first job (visiting post) at a small liberal arts school, and this year (today) at Oregon State with ~270 kids in the room. It was great both times!
I had a great idea today just before class that probably you’ve had already, but isn't mentioned in the book. This activity also lends itself to a little side discussion on symmetry. If we rotate the page by 90 degrees we exchange width and height, and our data should give the same model. That tells us that the two variables must have equal weight in the equation — so the graph can't be 1/x^2 or exponential, or log, or any of the other guesses students come up with.Good point! If the students are ready to have this insight, we might also point out that this kind of symmetry — where we can exchange x and y without changing the relationship — also means that the function is its own inverse.
Our second book, A Den of Inquiry, Volume 2, is finally done and ready to ship out. It features a set of mechanics experiments, still focusing on data and data analysis (a.k.a. modeling). Unlike the first, probe-free volume, these use Vernier sensors with Logger Pro or Fathom. (Yes! Fathom version 2.1—a free upgrade—reads Vernier sensors directly!)
The March 2006 Physics Teacher has an article by Adam Niculescu about rolling solid spheres down variable-width tracks. This relates to the "Rolling Down Ramps" lab extensions in volume 1. (See our page 59.)
Find our first erratum here. Send more in as you find them!
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award Number DMI-0216656. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.