Wednesday, May 18, 2016

YouTube AP Physics 1 Lesson: Backyard water slide

Whoa! The Blog of Phyz has suddenly gone Stephen King prolific! I love it. Many thanks to Bree Barnett Dreyfuss and Dan Burns.

When the following gem percolated up through my Facebook feed. I was inspired to create a lesson. Take a look at the clip, and we'll proceed from there.

Backyard Water Slide Fail



[Note: as with all things YouTube, the specific video link above may someday go blank. Searching for "Backyard water slide fail" will likely find a working link. And it's always a good idea to download the video for posterity. YouTube discourages this, but underestimates your tenacity. And your Fair Use protection.]

My mind expanded the story: why did our water slide enthusiast overshoot the target pool? Why did they put the pool where they did? An AP Physics 1 exercise (perhaps shop-worn even in these early years of AP1) overcame me. So I hacked away.

When trying to fit a physics lesson to a real-life situation, there's always the question of how best to balance "real-world"-ism and "first-year students can solve it"-ism. I did my best; you might have done it differently. I think my distance estimates are reasonable; I didn't do heavy duty video analysis.

My process does get a wee bit ugly, but that's why it's an AP Physics 1 exercise, not a Conceptual Physics exercise. But you get energy, rotation, and projectiles in the mix, so it's a worthwhile activity. And it involves video of a guy hurting himself: few things appeal so viscerally to the teenage sensibilities.

In any case, here's my expansive spin on the video clip.

YouTube Physics: The Ultimate Backyard Water Slide

The answer key is available to classroom teachers who send requests from their school email accounts and tell me where they teach.

And if you wish to add even more mechanics problem clich├ęs, you could ask how this would have gone down if repeated on the moon.

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