Cycloid Ramp

cycloid ramp1

cycloid ramp2

  • The amount of time required for a rolling ball to reach the bottom of a cycloid ramp is, surprisingly, height independent. Test this out by releasing two balls, simultaneously, from two different heights along the ramp (bottom picture). Balls always collide at the lowest point where the two ramps meet. Place the metal tube on the ramp, at lowest point, to allow students to hear the simultaneous clang made when balls reach bottom.
  • The  Brachistochrone problem can be discussed by showing that a ball travels more slowly down an un-curved ramp than it does down a cycloidal one.
  • Numbers along curve indicate height from bottom.
  • Located in L02, section B2.

Energy in Capacitor


Energy in Capacitor demo photo

  • Purpose: Compare the energy stored in a capacitor to the
    potential energy of an object raised vertically by the electrical discharge
    of the capacitor; measure the efficiency of a motor.
  • Located in L01, section B1.


Faraday Cage


Faraday Cage demo picture

  • Use the cage in conjunction with Van de Graaff to demonstrate
    electrostatic shielding.
  • Place a hand-held radio inside the cage to demonstrate electromagnetic
    shielding (radio in cage should pick-up no signal).
  • Located in L01, section A2.


Coulomb Apparatus


Coulomb Apparatus demo picture
Coulomb Apparatus demo picture 2

  • Demonstrate 1/r^2 dependence of Coulomb force.
  • For accurate measurements, potential difference between charged
    spheres should be maintained using high-voltage power supply.
  • For less-quantitative measurement, spheres can be charged
    with rod and fur. Charge on sphere can then be measured using proof plane,
    Faraday Ice Pail, and electrometer (right).


  • Coulomb Apparatus: L01, section A2.
  • Proof plane: L01, section A2, plastic bin.
  • Faraday Ice Pail: L01, A2.
  • Electrometer: L01, A1.


Van de Graaff Gen.


Van de Graaff Generator demo picture

  • Principle: Static electricity is cool.
  • Located in L01, section A2
  • Van de Graaf accessories are located beneath Van de Graaff
    generator in plastic containers.

Some ideas for experiments beyond the typical shock-myself-and-my-students:

  • Bend a paper clip into an L shape and tape it to the charged sphere to create
    an ion gun; point the paper clip at the palm of your hand to feel the “ion
    wind”. Point the paper clip at your shirt to charge your shirt up- after
    30 seconds shirt should begin sticking to your chest.
  • Place a cup of styrofoam peanuts, or a stack of styro or aluminum plates
    on top of the sphere, turn on generator and watch stuff fly.
  • Dim the room lights, touch one end of a fluorescent bulb to the charged
    sphere and the other end of the bulb to the small discharging sphere. Bulb
    will flicker.
  • Using a squirt gun shoot a stream of water past the charged sphere; water
    should ionize and stream will disperse.





Loop the Loop


Loop the Loop Demo Picture

  • Purpose: Use concepts of gravitational, rotational, and kinetic
    energy to calculate height at which ball must be released to just remain in
    contact with track as it loops the loop.
  • Located in L02, section B3. Balls located in L02, section



Coaster Track


Coaster Track Demo Picture
Coaster Track Demo Picture 2

  • Purpose: Nice for illustrating gravitational potential energy
  • Use ring stands and duct tape to set up.
  • Two different coaster tracks are on the shelf. One of them
    is more flexible and easier to use.
  • Located in L02, section B2