In this activity, students will be using the Tracker software to analyze conservation of energy in projectile motion. (Example of Video analysis and modeling tool – Tracker software)
In groups of 3-4, students go outdoors and take a video of themselves throwing an object, being careful to frame the video correctly and to include some means of distance calibration (such as a meter stick), and ensuring the camera does not move while they film. This can be done using a cell phone.
Students then return to a computer or interactive whiteboard and upload this video into the Tracker software (for example by emailing themselves the video), and calibrate the axes and distances. They then track the object frame by frame as a point mass using the software, which uses this data to produce tabulated data for position, velocity, and acceleration along both axes. Students export this data.
Working alone with a computer (or in pairs if computers are limited), students import the data into a spreadsheet program such as Excel. Students create columns for potential energy, kinetic energy, and total energy, then use spreadsheet formulas to populate these columns. Students plot all three on the same graph in their spreadsheet program.
Students then return to their original groups to compare their resulting plots and discuss the implications. If energy was not constant over time, they can discuss where energy was lost.
Finally, the instructor can lead a class discussion of the results and conservation of energy.
Students learn to analyze data using spreadsheet programs and gain a deeper understanding of conservation of energy.
Copyright: © 2023 Bhatnagar. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication on this website is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.