May the Force Be With You by Emily Shy

MSMS AP Physics I students completed their third and most difficult lab of the year (so far) this week, a lab involving force tables and lots of trigonometry. The goal of the lab was to further students’ understanding of vectors, a topic on which they have been working all week. The students balanced forces on the specialized pieces of equipment, force tables, and had to find unknowns to achieve the force equilibrium. This forced them to utilize many different mathematical skills, ranging from geometry, to trigonometry, to algebra. This could have been difficult for some juniors who had not yet taken Trigonometry or other important math classes; as Meagan Pittman, a junior said, “I really liked it, but it was a lot of math.”  

As students attempted to add the correct balances to different sides of the force table, Dr. Vaughan, in his second year of teaching Physics I students at MSMS, provided equations on the board, giving students helpful hints to encourage them to reach the right answer. Overall, according to Pittman, the lab was enjoyable due to the “challenging and problem-solving aspect of finding the missing weight of the balance. It was like a puzzle!”