Date: Wed, 31 Mar 1999 08:33:22 -0600

Author: paul o johnson

Subject: Re: Intro Lab Activities


Kelly Victoria Beck wrote:

> Good Morning Everybody,
> OK, well, our students don't have just one overwhelming favorite lab, but a
> few (we have three different intro-level courses, hence so many lab
> activities). Here they are:
> 1. pinhole camera - give students polaroid film backs, black letramax, and
> gaffers tape; they design and build their own pinhole camera; they must
> demonstrate and explain the operation of their camera by taking multiple
> exposures, multiple film-to-pinhole distances, multiple number of pinhole
> pictures, and use a picture taken with their cameras to determine the
> height of Hoover Tower
> 2. shake the clocktower - students set up resonance in a tall clocktower
> on campus by repeatedly running into the tower as a group with particular
> frequency, we have seismometers connected to tower, then students take data
> from the seismometers and do various data analyses
> 3. cow eye dissection - that about explains it: dissect cow eye (real
> deal, not some formaldhyde soaked thing), one of the parts of this lab
> involves dissecting out the lens and observing images with the cow eye
> lens, another involves looking at the tapetum and considering color vision
> 4. uv mutagenesis - interaction of uv radiation with living material, here
> we use your and my friend e coli; students plate e coli on agar dishes;
> design their own experiment to test what materials protect the e coli from
> shortwave uv radiation; we provide the students with whatever materials
> they request; they run their experiment
> 5. speed of light - students measure the speed of light by measuring the
> ghost image on a tv; take tv outside near a large building on campus;
> students measure the ghost image and estimate distance to the large
> building; we give them the distance to the local broadcasting station and
> do a detailed discussion with them of scan rates on tvs; they put all the
> info together to calculate the speed of light
> 6. casino lab - this one is all about probability and statistics that we
> actively incorporate into the science in the classes; faculty, TAs, and me
> dress in tuxedo or black evening gown and deal blackjack, craps, and
> roulette; students are given certain betting strategies; must choose
> between betting strategies using what they have learned in class about
> probability; students must keep track of their win/lose record and analyse
> their record and evaluate "correctness or applicability" of their strategy
> predicted by probability
> Hope that this helps!
> Kelly

Question 1: What is gaffer's tape? I see gaffer listed on modern movie credits
but have no idea what they do?

Question 2: Never having experienced one, I thought earthquake frequencies were
of the order of 1 Hz. How do you get a group of students to run in and out of
the tower at such a frequency?

Question 3: What do the facility engineering folks think of this little

Question 4: Where do you get fresh (unreserved in formaldehyde) cow eyes?

Question 5: How do students measure a TV ghost image? Do they measure distance
between strong and weak images on the screen or period of flicker or what?

Many other questions come to mind. Perhaps you can post write-ups of and
problems you have experienced with these experiments.

I teach physics and physical science at Collin County College, a two-year
college in the northern suburbs of Dallas.