Please read this page before downloading and looking at the labs/activities. It contains information that will be helpful in understanding the activities.


The labs/activities found on this page were developed at writing conferences as part of the ATE Project for Physics Faculty. These conferences brought TYC and HS physics teachers together to write, test in their classrooms and provide feedback to the project PI’s. The 25 activities below are not all the ones developed but are the ones that have been the most tested and have the widest applicability to courses TYC and HS teachers teach.


These labs/activities were not written to necessarily fill a typical 3-hour lab time slot. Some may only take an hour and some will span over several class periods. For most of them, there will be instructor notes that will help those trying them. It should be noted that the instructor notes are not overly robust and it is assumed that the instructor using them has familiarity with standard lab procedures and equipment (including but not limited to computers, probe-ware…). One note on the naming of the labs, some of them have creative/cute names and thus please read the description so you will have a better idea of what that activity is about. Some activities have homework or follow-up exercises associated with them that can be used inside class or assigned for outside of class.


Not all activities are appropriate for each level of course (conceptual, algebra/trig or calculus) typically taught at a TYC or HS. We feel it is best for the adopter to determine the approriate level for their class and students. If you have questions about what course an activity might be appropriate for, please contact us using the emails below. The labs/activities have been formatted to be fairly consistent but are modifiable by the user.


For each activity there is a .zip file that contains all the files for that activity. That compressed file will contain the activity, instructor notes, lab files (if any), and sample data (if needed/any). The activity is a word file and can be modified to fit your needs as long as no profit is made off the use of the activity and the ATE Project for Physics Faculty is given credit. Also, you can modify the activity to fit the level of course you are using it in. If you need permission to copy them for your copy center, please contact Dwain Desbien (


The PI’s of the project hope you find the labs/activities useful and appreciate hearing from you on how you have been using them in your classrooms. You can contact Tom (tokuma@lee.ed) or Dwain ( if you have any questions or comments. Thanks and we hope you find good uses for these free activities.



The Labs/Activities in alphabetical order:


1D Motion

This lab is broken into two parts and both utilize a motion detector/motion capture system. The first part (constant v motion) involves students moving in front of a motion detector with constant velocity. The second part (Gas and Brakes) uses a fan cart for a constant acceleration. Download zip file here.


Are We On Same Wavelength

This is a lab using diffraction to determine the wavelength of an unknown laser. It is done using photo analysis of the diffraction pattern and an analysis software such as loggerpro or tracker. Download zip file here.


Bulb in a Box

This activity uses incandescent and led lightbulbs in cardboard boxes looking at the effect each has on their surroundings and the implications for real world living. Download zip file here.


Bulk Up

This lab looks at torques and how they related to the human bicep. Different connection points for the bicep is considered and tested. This lab has BIO applications. Download zip file here.


Can You Hear Me Now

A simple exploration of EM shielding using cell phones and AM radios using common household items for the shielding. Download zip file here.


Dental Death Ray

This activity looks at the effectiveness of the “lead” aprons used at dental offices in stopping x-rays. A low activity gamma source is used in place of x-rays. Download zip file here.


Dying for Electrophoresis

This is a lab that looks at dyes moving in an electric field. It has a strong BIO emphasis and would require equipment not typically found in an introductory physics lab but would likely be found in your BIO department. Download zip file here.


Energy Conservation of a Ball

This lab uses video analysis to look at the energy of a bouncing ball. It requires students to have skills in doing video analysis. Download zip file here.


Energy Stored in a Battery

This is a lab that will span a couple of class periods. It looks at the total amount of energy stored in various types of batteries (AA, AAA…). Download zip file here.



Imaging with a Motion Detector

This is a simple lab using a motion detector to create elevation maps of boxes/books sitting on the floor. A nice way to show how imaging is done using a familiar tool (motion detector). Download zip file here.


Intro to Induction

A quick activity introducing the idea of EM induction. It uses magnets moving through coils when moving at constant velocities and when accelerating. Download zip file here.


Magnetic Interactions

This lab looks at the forces between permanent magnets vs. the distance between them. Additionally, it reinforces Newton’s third law and shows it applies to magnets also. Download zip file here.


Nervous About Nerves

A DC circuit wiring activity that explores how the nervous system of the human body is wired (series/parallel) where the brain is the batteries for the circuit. Download zip file here.


Particles from Nothing

This activity uses VPython to simulate decay of an uncharged particle into 2 charged particles and their motions in various combinations of electric and magnetic fields. Download zip file here.


Rolling with Rutherford

This activity introduces the uses of statistic and histograms into a simple lab to indirectly determine the size of a marble. Download zip file here.


Slinking Around

This lab looks at the various factors that affect the magnetic field inside of a solenoid (a slinky). It requires students to look at data and draw conclusions from it. Download zip file here.


Snake Handling

This is a series of tutorials to get students up and coding in VPython in pretty short order. Each tutorial includes a video and coding for the students to do. Likely not all tutorials will be needed for you class. Download zip file here.


Some Like it Hot

This lab explores what effects how fast the temperature of various materials changes. Download zip file here.


Speak to Me

This is a project activity having students build a simple speaker and audio amplifier with extension to build a pickup for a string instrument. Download zip file here.


The Great Cup Drop

This is video analysis and computational modeling lab (using excel) looking at a paper cup falling straight down with air resistance included. Download zip file here.


To The Moon

This is a video analysis and computational modeling lab (using excel) looking at a model rocket launch and matching video and computational data. Very challenging activity. Download zip file here.


VPython Electric Potential

An activity having students using VPython to code and visualize electric potentials due to various charge configurations. Download zip file here.


What the Flux

A lab looking at how changing flux through a solenoid effects the induced voltage in that solenoid. Download zip file here.


What the Puck

A lab using video analysis for analyzing 2d collisions of air pucks. Three different approaches are done based on instructor preferences. Download zip file here.




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