Introduction: Spring Gun Target Lab Challenge

A challenge for students after studying the conservation of energy and projectile motion is to give them a spring gun (any version will do, this is an inexpensive version I found in Oriental Trading) and a target.

Materials Needed for each lab group:

spring gun
target (I use a mad scientist rubber ducky.)
two meter stick (a meter stick that is 2 m long) or two one meter sticks

Students are not allowed to use any other equipment for the challenge and are able to achieve excellent results. This style of gun is very consistent in its behavior. I find that the spring retains a very constant spring constant even after many many uses by students. I specifically do not allow students to use a force scale as that will make the challenge too simple, and removing and replacing the spring in the gun does damage the spring a bit if not done carefully.

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Bio: I'm a physics and chemistry teacher at a public school in Maryland and active in my local science teacher's association. I love building ... More »
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