Extra Credit ideas

In previous semesters, I tried to have a single extra credit project that students from all courses could get involved in. That work is described on the pages linked here. If you are interested in working on this project, it is still available. However, it seems to make sense to offer a wider variety of smaller projects, which may be worked on individually, or in small groups. If you have additional ideas, feel free to suggest them. Before beginning any extra credit project, be sure to ask me for permission to do it, and for warnings: some projects may be quite dangerous!

Current ideas for projects:

Mechanics-related (Physics 150, 211)
• Analysis of roller-coaster motion, using VideoPoint.
• Create videos of real-world objects in motion, and use VideoPoint to analyze them.
• Measure a force due to air resistance, to approximate work done by air resistance in slowing a car.
• Build and test a 2-D collision apparatus.
• Investigate chaotic dynamics, for example a double-pendulum, or the frequency of falling water droplets.
• Build a rotational acceleration tank.
Wave-related (Physics 150, 211, 214)
• Build and test resonance tubes for sound waves.
• Build and test a resonance loop.
• Use speakers and sound sensor to measure interference in sound waves: two "point" sound sources, diffraction, etc.
• Predict behavior of, build, and test resonanace in bars and other shapes (e.g. Chladni plates).
Electricity and Magnetism-related (Physics 151, 212)
• Build an electret: a sample of wax that holds an electric field for months or years.
• Build a simple version of a Van de Graaf generator. Currenty being tried.
• Wire up, test, and use the circuitry from an air ionizer, to be used for static electricity experiments.
• Build a device that generates static electricity via falling water droplets.
• Build a motor that relies on static electricity.
• Build and test a simple DC motor. Currently being tried.
• Build a simple galvanometer, add resistors to use as ammeter and voltmeter.
• Build a motor control circuit, for use with a rotational motion demonstration.
• Test and experiment with the Thompson e/m apparatus.
• Construct and test Helmholtz coils.
• Construct pump/filter/tank/water wheel to make fluid-based analogy to electric circuit.
• Using full 3-D data, determine the magnitude and direction of the net magnetic field in the classroom.
• Measure magnetic field vs. distance for a variety of different permanent magnets and coils.
Optics-related (Physics 151, 214)
• Build a magnetic support base for the laser line-generators.
• Observe, describe optically-active materials, via polarization.
• Build, test a simple Webcam-based telescope.
• Assemble, test a circuit for fiber-optic communication.
• Perform optical and/or microwave interference experiments.
• Schlieren imaging of turbulence (using polarization).
• Graph spectra from various gases, using light sensor and rotary motion sensor, to determine wavelengths as accurately as possible.
Fluids and Thermodynamics-related (Physics 151, 213)
• Measure the mechanical equivalent of heat -- several possible methods.
• Measure the rate of heat transmission for systems that are mostly conduction, mostly convection, and mostly radiation.
• Get vacuum pump in working order, experiment with it.
Miscellaneous
• Review a colletion of Scientific American's "The Amateur Scientist" articles (1928-2001), which I have on CD, for ideas.
• Search the Web for ideas (e.g. Bill Beaty's amateur science page is one of many possible sources.)