DIY Force plate plans for deployment at Albany High

John Drazan
We want to be able to talk to the kids about the differences between science and engineering while providing some tangible experience with real life data collection and analysis methods.

I was thinking about doing something along these lines:

 1) Introduce ourselves and talk about how engineers build equipment that scientists use to ask and answer questions.
2) The undergrads (Matt and Heather) would give a brief overview of how they built the system
3) Have the entire class jump on the plate and then compare the results from the plate to measurements from the jumping and touching the board with chalk
4) “Validate” the system by comparing between the jump and reach data vs the force plate data.
5) Come up with a question as a class to answer using the scientific method, the force plate and 2-d kinematic equations.
6) For example: I Wish I was little bit taller… Inspired by Skee-lo
How does student height relate to jump height? Tall people can reach higher, however how do their vertical jump height relate to their standing height?
  • Create a testable hypothesis: Tall people jump higher off the ground than shorter people
  • Have all the students measure their jump height on the plate and also record their heights
  • Compare the results by taking the average of each group
  • Talk about how we can use other representations of data to learn more about the system (introduce the concept of box plots and standard deviation)
  • Discuss other variables that could be important to understand results (student weight, age, sex)
  • Discuss the differences between scientists and engineers and what they like better.
At the end of the day, the kids should have an understanding of the difference between a scientist and an engineer and also have an engaging introduction to real world data collection using a piece of equipment that they could make.


Matt and Heather’s force plate

Physics Classroom visit: Using the Impulse Momentum Theorem to Calculate Final Jump Height

John Drazan

Fellow John Drazan visited a regents physics classroom on Friday, February 6th to run a laboratory activity. Students were introduced to the material by using the impulse-momentum theorem in combination with the straight line motion equation to calculate the average force used by NBA players to dunk the basketball. They then used a vernier force plate system to record their own force vs time data. This data was used to calculate their take off velocity using the impulse-momentum theorem, which allowed students to calculate their maximum jump height. To serve as a control, students recorded their standing jump height using a marked chalkboard. Comparisons were made between the two methods of jump height calculation and students discussed the possible confounding factors such as differences in effort between the two jumps.


force plate data explanation

Muscle Physiology Lesson Plan


Goals: The purpose of this lesson is to increase students’ understanding of muscular function by investigating the structure, metabolism and function of muscle cells. The class will be opened with a discussion regarding how weight training affects health and performance. The discussion will end with a series of “hook questions” that the class should be able to answer by the end of the period. Ideally, by the end of the class the students will have an appreciation for why the body needs so many seemingly redundant muscles.

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