Making dynamics experiments easyPublication Date: September 23rd 2016
Designed to be used with the Data Harvest SmartQ sensor system, the Dynamics System is best described as a construction kit for Physics teachers.
At the heart of the system is a verti- cal tower with a twin track ramp. The design of the system is very clever in that there are three rebated slots capable of taking a machined bolt, which allows the ramp to be held in almost any position possible. Various add-ons can also use this or the other slots. Among the add-ons are a number of plastic ‘L’ shaped mouldings, with their own slots. These can be bolted onto the ramp to hold all manner of sensors or add-ons. Also supplied with the kit is a small model car. This has very low friction wheels, which t into two rebated tracks on the top of the ramp. The car is also well designed; slots on the front can hold a plastic re ector shield, whilst the top has a screw-threaded hole to hold a mass holder or a threaded nut to which string can be attached. Sensors such as distance, force, rotation and light gates are easily xed to the system ramp. A pulley can also be attached; especially as it has spokes so can be used with the light gates to measure motion.
Setting up the system was initially not clear; reading the manual helped greatly! Because of the adaptability of the system, you can attach almost anything anywhere and this is a real strength, but can also lead you down the wrong avenue very eas- ily. This is not the fault of the apparatus, more the enthusiasm over common sense of the reviewer!
Once you have a feel for how things t together, then the system is a joy to use. The heavy stand keeps everything stable, though a clamp stand was needed at one point. Pretty much any dynamics experiment is possible, using the extension kit allows investigations into momentum, equations of motion, Newton’s laws, kinetic and potential energy and crumple zones, however the basic kit allows a wide range of experiments to be carried out. The work on crumple zones was very easy and made this investigation much simpler than I had found before.
The dynamics system is best served using the SmartQ sensors, however this is not an absolute necessity. I found that using light gates and distance sensors from other retailers also worked. This is an advantage for those schools who have already invested heavily in data logging equipment. However it must be stressed that using the Data Harvest sensors was much easier, simply because the Dynamics System is designed to accompany the sensors, which have mounting holes and brackets to t onto the ramp.
One of the real joys was being able to carry out experiments that I had not been able to carry out before with any real success. The shear adaptability of the ramp made it very exible and very easy to adapt to my needs. I did need at one point to use a clamp stand to help in one experiment, a hexagon nut onto a clamp stand boss would have been useful, as it was, a small length of steel tube with a bolt fitted to it made a suitable substitute.
The system is much more preferable to wooden ramps and a plethora of clamp stands. The SmartQ sensor system integrated very well and after a very short learning curve I was away and actually enjoying trying out combinations that were not in the excellent manual, which is a downloadable PDF from the Data Harvest website.
The Dynamics System is not cheap, however it really does make dynamics experiments easy to carry out with impressive results.
The dynamics extension kit is very useful, but not 100% essential; at just over £220 the entire system is worth the outlay, even if you only buy one for A Level investigations. This is an ideal replacement for the typical school air-track and is much quieter!
John Kinchin IOP
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