Education Technology

Best of Physics Activities for the Fall Semester

Posted 10/09/2020 by Erick Archer

The website is an excellent resource for any science teacher looking for lessons and content that can be used either in person or online. The colorful and engaging simulations help bring the concepts to life for students by enabling them to test variables and challenge their own ideas. Take a look at some of the best physics activities below. These are just a few of the many activities available for free with your TI-Nspire™ CX Premium Teacher Software or TI-Nspire™ CX or TI-Nspire™ CX II graphing calculator. Don’t have the software? Click here to get started.

1. Skills of Science: Tool — Vector
When your students get to vectors, have them use this TI-Nspire™ tool. It allows students to explore the mathematics of vectors such as magnitude, direction, addition, subtraction and multiplication of vectors.

Screenshots from the Tool — Vector activity
Screenshots from the Tool — Vector activity.

2. Forces and Motion: Newton’s Second Law
Although this lesson has been around for a long time, it does a really nice job in helping students see and understand Newton’s second law through the use of a simple simulation meant to collect data on mass, force and acceleration.

Screenshots from the Newton’s Second Law activity
Screenshots from the Newton’s Second Law activity.

3. Forces and Motion: Free Body Diagrams
This activity has several simulations that let students interact with forces due to weight and normal force on an incline plane. Later in the lesson, students will also adjust for frictional forces.

Screenshots from the Free Body Diagrams activity
Screenshots from the Free Body Diagrams activity.

4. Work, Energy and Momentum: Work and Power — Physics: Energy Skate Park (HS)
This lesson enables students to observe differences in the motion of a skateboarder in three different gravitational environments. Students will also observe the relationships between kinetic, potential and total energy. This activity was adapted from the popular Phet series of simulations.

Screenshots from the Physics: Energy Skate Park activity
Screenshots from the Physics: Energy Skate Park activity.

5. Rotational Equilibrium and Simple Machines: Simple Machines — Balancing Act (HS)
Adapted from the popular Phet simulations, Balancing Act is broken into two parts: Lab and Game. In the Lab section, students experiment with rotational equilibrium by balancing objects of different mass at different distances relative to the fulcrum. In the Game section, students are given a series of challenges with an object of unknown mass at a known distance and must balance the teeter-totter.

Screenshots from the Balancing Act activity
Screenshots from the Balancing Act activity.

6. Heat and Thermodynamics: First of Law of Thermodynamics — Internal Energy and Work
In this lesson, students will develop the equation for work by observing the relationship between volume change and work done in a cylinder and piston at constant pressure. Students will interact with a simulation and collect data to develop the equation.

Screenshots from the Internal Energy and Work activity
Screenshots from the Internal Energy and Work activity.

About the author: Erick Archer is a Market Strategy Manager at Texas Instruments and works with science and STEM teachers in the implementation of TI technology. He is also a former high school science teacher, father of two sons, married to his high school sweetheart and LOVES baseball.