The company Multimedia Science is no longer selling its science software and game making software. However, the company is allowing anyone to use these materials free of charge. Feel free to share them with other teachers.
All of the files have been placed in compressed Zip files. Pretty much all of these materials have instructor’s notes, objectives, and answer keys. Some of the Zip files contain a single PC .exe file, which is an install file. When run, the .exe file will install the software and associated documents on your computer. The instructor’s notes will have more information on how to install, set up, and use the materials.
All of these materials have been tested for computer viruses. Some virus checkers will flag the files as being infected because they are not “popular” files. They are safe for you to use.
For more information, you can visit the following websites:
Another FREE Android physics application, the Types of Energy Challenge is now available. The link below will take you to the software.
First, let’s define a basic set of 10 types of energy. Where are these energies hiding in the world we live in? See if you know by playing the Types of Energy Challenge software game. For example, what type of energy is hiding in gasoline. I’ll never tell. But find out by playing the game and seeing what your score is.
Any suggestions regarding these Android games are always appreciated.
Another FREE Android physics application, the Acceleration Game, is now available. The link below will take you to the Acceleration Game.
The Acceleration Game software helps students to gain a “gut” understanding of acceleration by playing two games. The first requires them to set the acceleration and acceleration sign to guide a car around a race track. This is very difficult uncles students are very clear on the meaning of positive and negative acceleration. The second requires them to set the acceleration and direction of a space ship to hit space objects. This is difficult since once the ship gains velocity it must be turned around and accelerated in the opposite direction to slow down.
The game keeps score as students take 10 trys at two different race car and two different space missions. After playing, students can add their scores to a high score table. There is also a two player race car game and an asteroid bonus game just for fun (no points).
Any suggestions regarding these Android games are always appreciated.
Multimedia Science is back with another FREE Android science application. The link below will take you to the Momentum Race game.
The Momentum Race Game is a quick paced software game to see how well and quickly students can calculate or estimate momentum.
The game consists of three levels of increasing difficulty. The three levels are Aliens, Animals, and Weapons. Each level consists of four “objects” that start moving when the Start button is clicked. At this instant the values for the mass and velocity are shown and the objects start to race across the screen. The student(s) must choose the object with the most momentum before the first object reaches the right side of the screen. Scores are kept for 10 attempts and can be added to a high score screen.
Multimedia Science is offering a FREE Android version of the Projectile Hoops software for physics or physical science teachers.
In the Projectile Hoops software, a ball is shot into projectile motion with a known angle and initial velocity. Students must place three hoops at the correct vertical distance to intercept the projectile. A score is kept for each ten tries and can be added to a high score table.
1) An Excel spreadsheet that calculates the answers.
2) Two versions of a lab that utilizes the Pasco projectile launcher. First, students must calculate the velocity of the ball shot horizontally out of the launcher. Then using this velocity, students are given an angle for the launcher and must calculate the new range and accurately hit a target.
Adding Two Vectors – Maximum and Minimum is a piece of software designed to illustrate how to find the maximum and minimum values of the resultant of adding two vectors.
Software Curriculum: All Level: K – 12
Used With: PC Computer
Objectives: Illustrate how to find the maximum and minimum value of the resultant when two vectors are added
Requirements: PC computer, Windows 98 or newer
To run the software, download and unzip the Zipped file InstallAddingTwoVectors.zip. Then run the InstallAddingTwoVectors.exe and follow the directions to install.
After starting the program, set the values of the two vectors that are to be added. You can choose values from 0 to 10 for each of the two added vectors by clicking on the up and down arrows for Vector 1 Size and Vector 2 size. Then click on the angle button. The angle will change from 0 to 180 degrees in 10 degree increments. The size of the resultant will be shown.
After looking at a number of examples, students should be able to figure out that the maximum value of the resultant is the two values of the two added vectors added together and the minimum value of the resultant is the two values of the two added vectors subtracted from one another.
Science Teaching & Technology by Multimedia Science
Tennis Ball Cannon Saga
Shoot First and Ask Questions Later
The Original Cannon
After teaching physics and chemistry for several years, I attended a physics demonstration seminar. One physics teacher mentioned that he had built a cannon out of tin cans that would shoot a tennis ball and could be used as a demonstration of momentum. Thus began a twenty year process of building and rebuilding the tennis ball cannon which became one of the most effective and popular demonstration in my physics classes.
Some research led me to the basic design which was to use several tin cans taped together attached to another can used as a firing chamber. A small hole was made in the firing chamber to both insert some propellant and to ignite it.
In order to make the cannon into a demonstration for momentum, it had to be able to recoil. So I constructed my prototype cannons on momentum carts. Finding the right tin cans was quite a challenge. Some cans had such a tight fit around the tennis ball that the ball would not come out. The balls were so tight, that I had to disassemble the cannon to remove the ball. Other cans were so loose that, after ignition, the ball would literally just roll out the end of the cannon.
After many tries, I found the perfect sized can, which turned out to be small cans of V8 vegetable juice. The cannon was set up on a laboratory bench, the tennis ball was inserted, and casually I lit the propellant. BOOM! The tennis ball shot out of the cannon, bounced off of the wall across the classroom, and hit me right in the middle of my glasses (no lie). The cannon, meanwhile, recoiled, hit my hand, turned over, and hit floor. For the next several years, the physics cannon had a large dent in its firing chamber. Obviously, I had become careless after so many unsuccessful attempts.
I devised a lab where the students were supposed to be government researchers investigating a new secret cannon. They had to use both momentum and projectile motion to calculate the velocity of the ball using two different methods. One student from each lab group were assigned to set up the firing range and the others worked on setting up the equations to calculate the two velocities.
After everything was set up, it was time to fire the cannon. Many of the students were not particularly impressed with the cannon. The propellant was added and the flame was set to the ignition hole. BOOM! The ball shot out of the cannon, hit the wall, and caromed back across the room. I saw that all of the student’s eyes were now wide open and they began clamoring to do it again. I usually stood with the student whose job it was to catch the cannon, since the recoil was unexpected enough that they often missed.
While there was some variation, the speed of the tennis ball often exceeded 100 miles per hour. All and all, it was the one demonstration / lab that students mentioned when they returned to visit after graduating.
The New “Improved” Cannon II
I continued to use the lone cannon for several years and soon other physics teachers began using it. Then one day I looked in the closet and the cannon was GONE! One of the teachers said that the cans had come apart so they had thrown it away. I was without my favorite toy that year and tried to recreate it without success. V8 juice was no longer sold in cans and the other cans I tried did not work.
Here is a YouTube video of an attempt to create a cannon using Pringles tubes which had a few problems.
The following year, I came into school one day to find a large white plastic object on my desk. The other physics teachers had built a new beautiful cannon out of PVC piping. I trotted the new cannon out for my classes and they were very impressed, since it was much more imposing looking that the original. Instead of lighting the propellant with a match, this cannon had an electric ignition. The cannon was set up and anticipation was high in the classroom. The cannon was fired and POOF! A large cloud of smoke appeared and the ball rolled slowly out of the mouth of the cannon onto the floor.
Over the next year, we all tried to make the new cannon work. We tried buying extra-large tennis balls and different propellants. Over the summer, I took the cannon home and worked on it with some other physics teachers. We increased the size of the hole to the firing chamber which did not work. We got better results by lining the barrel with waxed paper, but the ball came out followed by a flaming piece of wax paper.
The New “Old” Cannon III
At the beginning of the next teaching year, I arrived at my office to find a new cannon sitting on my desk. It looked just like the original cannon, just using different tin cans than in the original. The teacher who had thrown out the original spent a lot of time that summer trying out every tin can that he could find and hit upon a winner. It turns out that the size of the opening of the can is a very important variable. When it is just right, you get very high velocity.
That year several cannons were constructed so that every physics teacher had one and one as a spare. It was interesting that some of the cannons worked better than others, even though they were built using the same components by the same person. An some days a particular cannon would work better than it did on other days. It would make an interesting study to try and determine just what those variables were. I’m just glad to have my favorite toy back and I would think my students do also.
You can get a complete guide on how to build a tennis ball cannon and the associated lab report at Teachers Pay Teachers.
Science Teaching & Technology by Multimedia Science Industrial Experience & the Science Classroom The Electric Arc Furnace – Smoking is Bad for Your Health
After fifteen years as a chemical engineer, I made a career switch into high school science teaching. One of the pluses of entering the classroom from industry was that I could relate stories about the real world of work and use examples showing how the science was used during my career.
One of my favorite stories occurred in my first job working for Bethlehem Steel in Bethlehem. I was working in air pollution control and one of the problems I was assigned was cleaning up the electric arc steel furnace.
The electric arc steel furnace was used to make specialty steel like stainless steel. This furnace was several stories high, was filled with the steel making ingredients, and then three huge electrodes were lowered into the furnace. Electricity was used to melt the materials and while this was happening, the furnace’s top was open, and huge amounts of smoke rose upwards filling the furnace building.
Our engineering group’s assignment was to measure the velocity of the smoke as it left the furnace in order to design a ventilation system to remove the smoke. The first attempt to measure this velocity relied on a velocity measuring probe that could be placed in the rising smoke. You can probably guess who got the job of holding the probe.
Above the electric arc furnace was a movable platform crane that was used to load the material into the furnace. I was positioned on the platform with the velocity probe attached to a long pole so that it would extend over the railing and into the rising smoke. Unfortunately, I found that the crane did not stop or start smoothly, but jerked violently as the operator moved it back and forth trying to keep the probe in the smoke.
Well, I needed both hands to hold onto the probe and the box that indicated the results. But I also needed my hands to try to keep myself from either falling against the railing in front of me, which was red hot, or falling backwards into the electrical motor which would have fried me. There was also smoke all over the place rising into my face and into my eyes.
The end result was that I had to make a decision between falling into the furnace or letting go of the probe. I was able to watch it fall down into the furnace, disappearing into the semi-molten steel below.
OK, it was time for plan B. Somehow we got talking about our high school physics course where we measured the velocity of a moving object by using what is called a ticker or spark timer.
The moving object is attached to a piece of tape which runs through the timer. The timer makes marks on the tape at equal time intervals. These marks can then be measured to calculate the velocity or the acceleration of the moving object.
But how could this idea be applied in this situation? There was not any way to attach a piece of tape to the smoke! What we came up with was to hang a long 1 foot wide strip of aluminum from the ceiling along the side of the furnace. There were dots painted on the aluminum strip every meter. Then we blew up balloons and let them go, the balloons rising with the rising smoke. Finally, we took pictures of the balloon against the aluminum strip every second. What we ended up with was the vertical position of the balloon every second so that we could calculate its velocity.
While this worked, it was neither quick nor easy. The aluminum strip tended to blow around in the smoke and attract enough static electricity to give anyone holding it shock after shock. I found this out the hard way.
I find this story as a great introduction to the motion experiment using the ticker or spark timer. First, it answers to question, “When will we ever use this.” But it also illustrates the need for out of the box and creative thinking.
I use this story as part of my Click & Teach unit on Motion Graphing which is available at Teachers Pay Teachers.
Recently, I received an e-mail about a product called Snatoms. No, this is not a new low calorie snack made out of atoms, but a clever molecular modeling kit.
While listening to one of the Snatom YouTube videos, it was mentioned that atomic bonds do not “store” energy. Since this was how I was taught, and has served me well through 40 plus years of being a chemical engineer and high school physics and chemistry teacher, I wondered what was going on.
Poking around on the Internet, I found a number of sites with posts that talked about chemical bond energies. At least one article commented that:
Why do chemical bonds appear to “store” energy? They certainly “contain” energy, but energy must be added to get any energy out.
A science video blog which aims to present topics in all areas of science to make scientific ideas clear, accessible, and interesting.
Multimedia Science Physics & Chemistry Materials
Chemistry – Gas Laws Lab Software
Students can run three experiments using a computer simulation of a gas moving in a closed container exploring relationships between the three variables of volume, pressure, and temperature.
Physics – Frames of Reference Software
The Frames of Reference Demo is a software simulation of two cars (Car A and Car B) moving towards each other on a road. This motion can be seen simultaneously from three frames of reference: 1) the earth, 2)Car A, and 3) Car B.