AP Physics Experiment

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Students in Gabriel Argao’s class perform their experiments. Students did both the stick drop and wall tape experiments. (Photo courtesy of Blase Harriss)

On February 14, students in Gabriel Argao’s AP Physics class performed two science experiments.

Before the experiments began, Argao, an AP physics teacher at Leesville, said, “[In these experiments] students are going to be applying their knowledge of kinematics to calculate things like reaction time and vertical leap velocity.”

In one experiment, students jumped up into the air with a piece of tape on their finger and stuck it as high as they could on the wall. Then, they measured exactly how high they jumped using a measuring stick.

Using their measurements, students then calculated the speeds of their bodies during different times in their jump, factoring in the pull of gravity. 

Zachary Thomas, senior, said, “This specific experiment is just [meant] to allow us to get a grasp on using vertical displacement… [to figure out] how… we move in relation to gravity.”

The second experiment had students measure their reaction time in catching a falling measuring stick. 

In this two-student experiment, a student held a measuring stick vertically up in the air, ready to drop it. Meanwhile, a second student waited with their hands around (but not touching) the bottom of the measuring stick, so they could catch it as soon as it fell.

The first student dropped the measuring stick, and the second student tried to catch it as quickly as possible. When they caught it, the pair measured the distance the measuring stick traveled before the second student caught it. Then, they used the distance the stick traveled, along with gravity’s acceleration, to calculate how long it took the second student to react and catch the stick.

“One of the branches of physics is learning about motion, how things… move, and… we’re applying our knowledge of… the acceleration due to gravity and an object that’s either moving upwards or downwards in a vertical motion [to help students understand more about physics],” Argao said.

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