This project was intended to be a small, basic electromagnetic train. The battery, with magnets attached, would travel through this small coil of copper wire. However, as expressed by the "Attempt" in the title, it did not go as planned. The train's design is actually rather simple. It involves only a length of coiled copper wire, two neodymium magnets, and a battery. When the battery contacts the copper wire, it creates an electromagnetic field, which interacts with the magnets' field to propel the battery through the coil. However, for a number of reasons, our train did not work. First, we were having a few issues with the size of the copper coil- we weren't sure how tightly it should fit. We were not able to wrap it very tightly because of the second issue- the magnets. Unfortunately, we were unable to obtain the right shape and size of neodymium magnets for the train. All we had available were a couple broken pieces of bar magnets. This is perhaps the most significant issue; not only did the jagged shape of the magnets prevent the train from sliding through the coil, but they were difficult to handle and place right, and we had trouble determining north from south. If I were to do this project again, I would certainly find better magnets and do more research on the specifics of the design. Though it is unlikely at this point, I might retry this project in the future. If I do, I will know better what to do and hopefully succeed!
Homemade Battery Project
The battery design above generates around fifteen volts of electricity, and the principle on which it operates is relatively simple. All a battery needs to function are three things- an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte. In this vinegar battery, zinc nails, which are negatively charged and attract electrons, serve as the anode. Copper wire, which is positively charged and "gives away" electrons, is the cathode. The vinegar in the ice cube tray acts as an electrolyte, allowing electrons to flow from cathode to anode. The electrons move from positive to negative around the tray and through the LED to light it.
Rube Goldberg/Satire: The Avaricious Apparatus
The Rube Goldberg/Satire Project was a joint creation involving both Humanities and Physics concepts. (see Humanities 10) As well as looking into the figurative mechanics of satire, we also explored the laws of motion and literal mechanics of a complex, multi-step machine built to achieve a simple task. Below is my final video of this machine.
Reflection/Physics Behind The Apparatus
Conservation of Energy revolves around the concept that, since no energy may be created or destroyed, it must instead be transferred from one medium or object to another. This can be seen throughout the machine, as the energy from the initial car rolling down the ramp is transferred continually to reach the final step. For instance, the red car at the start transfers its energy to the white and blue one, which transfers its energy to the falling cereal boxes, and so on.
As this energy moves through mediums, it typically changes forms- in the example of the red car, its potential energy is converted to kinetic when the string is cut. With the lever by the oil rig, a kinetic- potential- kinetic conversion is seen as well, as the energy of the moving lever causes a marble's potential energy at the top of a ramp to become kinetic.
The six simple machines are basic devices found in many places in day to day life. Often they are combined and put to work in more complex machines. These simple machines make tasks easier by reducing the amount of work needed to operate them, redirecting force to move things more easily, and overall providing a mechanical advantage in many situations.
Each of the six simple machines can be seen in my "apparatus." To begin with, scissors act as a wedge to cut through a string, which releases a toy car on sets of wheels and axles, which rolls down a screw-shaped path. A car, an oat canister, and a marble all roll down inclined planes. Levers are exhibited with the marble-moving mechanism near the oil rig, and with the oil rig itself, as they move on fulcrums to redirect force. Finally, the whole thing ends with a pulley system lowering a weighted plate.
My challenge step is, as Tina aptly calls it, a "time warp box." The criteria for this step required a rolling object to be within an enclosed box for at least 10 seconds. I did this by adding many very slightly tilted ramps inside the box, so the ball does get to the bottom, but after much delay. I chose this step because, quite frankly, it was the one I knew I'd be able to make the best of. It helps, too, that it fits into my machine's theme.
Learning and Growth
Though I loved learning more about how to build simple machines, the major thing that this project gave me is confidence in myself. I was dreading this project when it first came up, because I didn't think I'd actually be able to construct such a thing. After much trial and error, however, I was able to make an amazing Rube Goldberg machine! I was also dreading the video-editing process, but in only a day, I managed to film and edit a clean, decent video. In the end, my final product is something I'd never dreamed I'd originally be able to make- and the fact that I did so gives me lots of hope for what I can do next!
My greatest challenge in this project was persevering through my frustrations and doubts. I went into this knowing that RGMs were hard and frustrating to make, but the small things- cardboard that kept falling, marbles that wouldn't stay in place- aggravated me more than I thought they would. Some days I just wanted to wreck the whole thing and be done with it! However, I knew I had to keep going, and so I did. For instance, the hardest step to master was certainly the spiral ramp at the very beginning. The car would get stuck nine times out of ten, and I had no way to fix it after my hot glue gun broke. I had to do most of my retakes because of that very first step. However, I kept retrying it, and right before I was ready to give up, the car finally rolled all the way down.
My greatest strength in this project was my satirical idea and the inspiration that drove it. From the beginning, I knew what I wanted to do and how I would express it in my machine. In my opinion, the project's strongest point from start to finish was its message, and I was able to convey it well with my final video. (In fact, I originally included an extra segment relating to the satire, though it was cut near the end.) This machine told a story, and it was one that resonated with me.
Photographs of Physics Project
In the Photographs of Physics Project, we set out to learn about light, waves, and how they worked. Because a photograph is in itself a product of the behavior of light, a photograph of optic physics in action is a perfect expression of these principles at work in our everyday lives.
Seen above: My Pet Rainbow, Courtesy Of Dispersion. Taken by Elizabeth Barrett.
Final Project: Overview In this photo, the effects of light dispersion can be seen. To create this image, I positioned a glass prism in a place where sunlight would stream through it. As the white light passed through the prism, it was separated, or dispersed, into its different visible wavelengths. You can see the spectrum clearly in this image, with the colors ranging from bright red all the way to a deep violet.
(I haven't yet been able to upload the other part of my final project, a short video which I recorded, on this page. To briefly describe it, this was a video of my cat chasing a small dot of light on the floor. )
The light was also generated using the prism and sunlight. When light hits the prism (which is pyramid-shaped) it is not only dispersed, but refracted. Light, which tends to travel in a straight line, "bends" when it moves through different mediums- as its speed changes, its path is altered. This happens with the prism, and its visual effect is multiple tiny dots of light scattered around the room.
In this project, my greatest strength was a spirit of creativity, curiosity, and a willingness to have fun. This project- which involved a lot of hands-on experiments and physical results- was very interesting and engaging to do. However, near the end we did more and more experiments at home, and not all of them worked. I feel I was still eager to learn and work through these problems, and a few of my pictures and videos show this. I included my cats in a few of the pictures I took. One image I set up was of the Wicked Witch melting in water (it looked this way due to refraction.) These little flairs of fun show all through my work for this project.
Aside from learning a lot more about light, color, and waves, my biggest takeaway from this project is that I learned so much about how science is constantly working, all around us, in everyday life. We perceive life a certain way because things behave the way they do, and if they didn't work the same way, our constant experience would be so different!
My greatest challenge with this project was figuring out how to use what I had at home to do the experiments for this project when we went online. I again had to face the feeling of worrying if I was doing it right on my own. I had to face these tasks straight on, rather than procrastinating, and when I did I found that my creativity began to blossom. I produced a few good photographs- and though one of my experiments did fail, I still had fun in the process.
I grew as a scientist during this project by starting to do experiments and observations without a teacher over my shoulder. Though I wouldn't consider myself much of a scientist, Physics has definitely required me to become one. Even experiments like the pinhole camera, which didn't turn out as expected, were done almost completely on my own, (though I followed a set of instructions) and I experienced the process of building something yourself and using it.
I feel that I did pretty well on this project! My final photo looks cool and the description is thorough. I paid attention and did work throughout the entire project, and I was excited to participate in it. I'm rather sad that our optics unit is over, but I very much enjoyed it while it lasted.