Introduction: INTRO & MATERIALS

This lab is supposed to be fun and educational, so have fun with it and don't catch anything on fire ;)
The purpose of this lab is to calculate the acceleration of the rocket car on the 4 meter track. Instantaneous speed, velocity,speed and average speed can also be calculated!

Gather all the needed materials for the lab.

Materials Needed: 
- C Rocket
- Matchbox or Hotwheels Car
- Hot Glue Gun
- Glue Sticks  
- 2-3 Pen tubes
- 2 X 4 Wood Plank- measuring 4 meters
- Angle Iron with holes (2)
- Wire (preferably a thicker wire) 
- 5 Photogates (if available)
- Vernier Software (if available)
- Measuring stick
- Nails or Screws
- Hammer or Drill
- Zip ties (if needed)
- Pen cap
- Ignitor
- Cap to put over ignitor
- Saftey Glasses
- 12 volt battery
- Coated copper wire

Teacher Notes

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Step 1: STEP ONE! - Making the Rocket Car

Once you have acquired a matchbox or hotwheels car you can start your project!
Place the rocket on top of the car by either gluing it with hot glue or strapping it on with zip ties. ( I prefer both). While the glue is drying, remove the actual pen and ink from the pen tube and cut the tube in half. After the rocket is secured to the car, glue the pen tubes to the sides of the car. (about mid way between the rocket and the car) Dont forget to glue something straight up on top of the rocket, like a pen cap. ( so the photogates can detect an object moving though it.) You may also weigh the car and include it in your data. (maybe the cars weight affects the speed of the car?)
Now the car is READY!!!

Step 2: STEP TWO!

Setting up the track!

Once you have measured the distance of the 2x4 ply wood board, take the metal piece and nail or screw it into the end of the ply wood. Once both sides are secured, string the wire of your choice, through the holes on each end.  Start at one side of the wood by putting the wire through the metal piece and securing it. Feed the wire to the other hole at the other end of the ply wood and come back to where you started. Make sure the wire is pulled tight. Once the track is set up, place the photogates at 10cm from the starting point, 1 meter, 2 meters, 3 meters, and 4 meters.


Once the car and track are set up, feed the wire through the pen tubes on both sides. Make sure the photogates are working properly by running the car through it by just pushing it manually. After everything is working properly push the car back to its starting position. Make sure all viewers are standing behind the track and not in front where the car's destination is. Place the 12-volt battery behind the track and attach the coated wire to the ignitor wires at the end of the car. (Make sure the wires don't touch) Once everything is in place, and the Vernier software is fired up, touch one wire to the negative and the other to the positive at the same time and watch the car take off!


When my group launched our car, only two of the photogates picked up information. I think the reason for this is that either the photogates were not properly installed or connected or the part of the pen i glued ontop was not sturdy enough and fell off once the rocket took off.
With or without correct data, our honors physics class still had a "blast"!!!

- Don't glue the pen tubes too high or too low
- Don't use only one wire down the track.. use two!
- Make sure the vernier software system is ready before you launch the rocket
- Don't stand in front of the track!!

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    10 years ago on Introduction

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