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In the Hooke’s Law and Simple Harmonic Motion for Elastic Materials Inquiry Lab Kit for AP® Physics 1, determine the stretchiness, or spring constants, for a rubber band and spring.

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AP Physics 1, Big Idea 3, Investigation 9

Bungee-jumping is thrilling but safe due to elastic materials that stretch far enough to scare the jumper without causing harm. The stretchiness of a bungee cord can be described using a spring constant. In this lab, students will determine the stretchiness, or spring constants, for a rubber band and spring.

The lab begins with an introductory activity in which students cause elastic materials to exhibit simple harmonic motion so they can measure spring constants by monitoring oscillating frequencies. Students use these results in the guided-inquiry activity to design a procedure to evaluate whether the materials obey Hooke’s Law. Students hang masses of increasing weights from the rubber band and spring, measure the resulting stretch distances, and use graphs to prove which material more closely obeys Hooke’s Law. As an additional activity, students may attempt to replicate a safe yet thrilling bungee jump by constructing a bungee cord of materials with appropriate spring constants to prevent an egg from crashing into the ground.

Complete for 24 students working in pairs. All materials are reusable.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking
Constructing explanations and designing solutions

Disciplinary Core Ideas

HS-ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
HS-ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and effect
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Systems and system models
Energy and matter

Performance Expectations

HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.
HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.