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This energy unit is intended as part three of a three part series where students use launchers to explore how scientists combine theory and measured data to build and use predictive models. The launchers will be used during projectiles, forces, and work/energy and students will measure and use data adjusted theoretical models to endeavor to complete two hands-on performance tasks. Historically, our students have struggled to understand why “physics breaks” in the lab, and we intend to use these launchers throughout our Newtonian mechanics units to open an ongoing dialogue about how modeling is used to bridge the gap between theory and real world behavior. The three parts work as follows:

  1. In the projectile unit, students will work in groups to build a spring loaded launcher and use real time technology to form a predictive equation relating exit velocity to spring displacement. They will then use this model to launch their ball into a cup from a horizontal position and an angled position as the performance task in this unit.

In the forces unit, students will perform a laboratory analysis on their spring(s) to observe the relationship between force and spring displacement for the launcher spring and to determine where Hooke’s Law is an appropriate model for finding the

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