AP Physics 1

Take any lab or demo that we do in AP Physics 1 and make it better, take it further

Measuring g, the Acceleration of Gravity on the Surface of the Earth

  • Find a way to measure g better than any of the ways we have done so far
  • Take a way that we have done, and make it much better

Rocket Lab

  • We did a lab with the red and white compressed air-powered rockets. Take this further.
  • I also have a water-powered rocket launcher. Build some water rockets and launch them.
  • Estes solid fuel rockets. Load of fun.

Atwood’s Machine Lab

  • There is a lot more you could do with this. Remember with the two weights on either side of the pulley.

Powerhouse Lab

  • This was one of the weakest labs of the year.
  • Find a better lab that teaches energy, work, and power.

Momentum and Collisons Labs

  • We have some great equipment for collision labs. There is all kinds of Vernier gear. We also have an air hockey table. Some cool slow motion video work could be fun with that!

Direct Measurement Videos

  • Create your own direct measurement videos
  • Do lots of the direct measuremnt videos on the DMV website. Become the master.
  • Figure out quantitative uncertainy using DMVs.

Circular Motion Labs

  • I am pretty happy with the twirling stopper lab. But you could find another lab related to circular motion.
  • There is a great one titled “The Flying Pig Lab.” Mr. Duchow-Pressly has done it in the past in AP Physics C, Mechanics.
  • I could also use a good angular momentum lab.

Waves and Simple Harmonic Motion

  • If you enjoy the open-ended Simple Harmonic Motion lab, extend it further.
  • You could look at coupled pendula, springs in parallel, springs in series, damped oscillations, forced oscialltions, resonance and more!
  • The case of the horizontal mass-spring system can definitely be explored in more detail. In particular, we needed to attach a spring to either end of the cart to make it oscillate back-and-forth. What is the effective spring constant in this case?
  • How do springs in parallel affect the effective spring constant? In series? There is lots of room to explore this with either static Hooke’s Law labs or dynamic simple harmonic motion labs.


  • At this point I don’t have a good sound lab. Take one of the ideas from the sound discover lab and develop it into a data lab. The obvious choice is the Speed of sound Lab (the tube in the graduated cylinder). But I bet you could think of some more ideas.
  • I am pretty sure someone could design and build better demonstations of the Doppler Effect and beat frequencies.
  • The Sympathetic Tuning Fork demonstation needs development. We have a bunch of tuning forks to explore.
  • Use a smartphone app or perhaps Vernier gear to measure the frequencies generated by a tuning fork. Compare these to the frequency stamped on the tuning fork. How accurate are the tuning forks. How much of the sound is generated in the fundamental frequency compared to overtones?
  • Many places now have these “white noise” machines. How do they work? What is the physics? Can you design an experiment to gain some insight.

Electricity & Electronics

  • Mini-lights
    • How do those strings of mini-lights work? Are they in serial or parallel, or something else?
    • What is the voltage across each light? What is the resistance of each light? How much current is flowing through the wire?
    • What is the role of a shunt? Of a fuse?
    • How do things change if the lights are LEDs versus incandescent?
    • How do things change for AC vs. DC lights?

© Joseph Minato 2018