Teaching Air Resistance
Name: Kasey O.
I found this web site when I searched for "air
resistance" on the web. I was wondering if you had any information that
would be helpful for me in my Physics Class. It is an education class for
middle childhood and my group is doing a project on air resistance and
gravity. Anything you might be able to help with would be appreciated.
The basis of air resistance is "pushing air molecules out of the way". The
faster an object moves, the more molecules have to be pushed out of the way
every second. This is why air resistance force is proportional to the speed
of the moving object. I recommend giving a real-life picture of what is
going on. Running through waist-high water is much more difficult than
walking through it. The principle is the same, but there are not nearly as
many air molecules to push out of the way.
Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Illinois Central College
Hi, Kasey !!
Well, I am sure that you can find a lot of experiments
to make for your Class. I would like to suggest you the
1 - you get a small vessel (with about 5 liters)
fill it with water, make 3 holes at the same distance from
the water level ( say 5, 10 and 15 cm ) and light the top
of the water level. The experiment must be conducted at
a dark place. What happens ? Well, you will see three
streams of water illuminated as an optic fiber.
Here you can explain the parabolic path of water ( due to
gravity and total reflection).
2 - If it is possible for you to get a vacuum ( I dont believe you have
this possibility... ) in a glass tube, you could try to show them
that a feather falls as fast a paper ball.
3 - another easy and ( I think ) interesting experiment would be :
in a corner of a table you lay down a ruler ( of about 50 cm long ).
In both ends of the ruler you put two small objects ( say, at the "zero"
and at the "50 cm" you put a piece of rubber, or whatever ). Then,
with a pulse, you push horizontally one of the objects. One will
travel in a parabolic curve and the other falls in a straight path
to the floor. Both will reach the floor at the same time ( you can
hear it !! ).
4 - if you let me, there is another experiment very interesting
that you can do : to blow ( with the mouth ) a strip of
paper ( say, 30 cm length x 3 cm width ). If you blow the upper
side, the strip will tend to go up, due to the greater air speed
( bigger speed lessens the pressure over the strip, so that the
paper will be lifted ). Well, that has not too much to do with
your desire, but...anyway, it may be useful in another occasion.
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Update: June 2012