GB2217897A - Aid for teaching mechanics - Google Patents

Aid for teaching mechanics Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2217897A
GB2217897A GB8808746A GB8808746A GB2217897A GB 2217897 A GB2217897 A GB 2217897A GB 8808746 A GB8808746 A GB 8808746A GB 8808746 A GB8808746 A GB 8808746A GB 2217897 A GB2217897 A GB 2217897A
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United Kingdom
Prior art keywords
track
teaching aid
length
lengths
preceding
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Withdrawn
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GB8808746A
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GB8808746D0 (en
Inventor
Arthur Robert O'malley
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MALLEY ARTHUR ROBERT O
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MALLEY ARTHUR ROBERT O
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Priority to GB8808746A priority Critical patent/GB2217897A/en
Publication of GB8808746D0 publication Critical patent/GB8808746D0/en
Publication of GB2217897A publication Critical patent/GB2217897A/en
Application status is Withdrawn legal-status Critical

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09BEDUCATIONAL OR DEMONSTRATION APPLIANCES; APPLIANCES FOR TEACHING, OR COMMUNICATING WITH, THE BLIND, DEAF OR MUTE; MODELS; PLANETARIA; GLOBES; MAPS; DIAGRAMS
    • G09B23/00Models for scientific, medical, or mathematical purposes, e.g. full-sized devices for demonstration purposes
    • G09B23/06Models for scientific, medical, or mathematical purposes, e.g. full-sized devices for demonstration purposes for physics
    • G09B23/08Models for scientific, medical, or mathematical purposes, e.g. full-sized devices for demonstration purposes for physics for statics or dynamics
    • G09B23/10Models for scientific, medical, or mathematical purposes, e.g. full-sized devices for demonstration purposes for physics for statics or dynamics of solid bodies

Abstract

A teaching aid which may comprise: a plurality of weights 27, each weight having a mass equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of mass; a plurality of lengths of track 7, each length of track being connectible to other lengths of track, each length of track having a length equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of length; a support system 3 for supporting at least one length of track in a desired orientation; means 37 for determining the orientation of a length of track relative to the vertical; a plurality of objects 25 able to run freely on the lengths of track, each object having a mass equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of mass; and means for measuring time intervals. The teaching aid is of use in demonstrating static mechanical concepts, such as triangles of forces and levers, and dynamic mechanical concepts such as velocity, acceleration, momentum and energy. <IMAGE>

Description

TEACHING AID The present invention relates to a teaching aid, and in particular to a teaching aid for use when teaching mechanics. The teaching aid will be of use to both applied mathematics and physics teachers.

Research has shown that students generally gain their knowledge of physics in two stages. In the first stage, they acquire knowledge from the impingement of natural forces on their own existence. The second stage involves tuition in a classroom. It has also been shown that students generally understand the majority of what they learn in the first stage, and that this understanding can be used to facilitate the understanding of what is learnt in the second stage.

At present, mechanics as an aspect of applied mathematics or physics is taught in schools almost exclusively on a theoretical basis. The traditional method of teaching mechanics uses the "plane" method, in which a great deal of both teacher and student time is occupied with drawing diagrammatic illustrations of the interactions of forces and matter, and with symbolic representations of force, mass, direction and time. A good deal more time is spent in proving by theorum the form a flat shape drawn on a plane surface would assume in three dimensions.

Using only paper methods, it is difficult to provide a realistic feel for the interactions of forces and times, which are invisible, with mass, length and direction. It is therefore not uncommon that students will be put off further study of mechanics because they do not find it relevant.

Even those who persist in its study may find it difficult to remember or apply the teaching.

It is commonly said that only 10% of what is heard and only 50% of what is written is remembered, but 90% of what is done is remembered. It has therefore been proposed that mechanics, along with many other subjects, should be taught practically.

However, at present there is not available any teaching aid which enables all the important aspects of mechanics to be taught practically.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a teaching aid for assistance in the practical teaching of mechanics.

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a teaching aid comprising: a plurality of weights, each weight having a mass equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of mass; a plurality of lengths of track, each length of track being connectible to other lengths of track, each length of track having a length equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of length; a support system for supporting at least one length of track in a desired orientation; and means for determining the orientation of each length of track relative to the vertical.

According to a second aspect of the present invention, there is provided a teaching aid comprising: a plurality of lengths of track, each length of track being connectible to other lengths of track, each length of track having a length equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of length; a support system for supporting at least one length of track in a desired orientation; a plurality of objects able to run freely on the lengths of track, each object having a mass equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of mass; means for determining the orientation of each length of track relative to the vertical; and means for measuring time intervals.

The teaching aid of the first aspect of the present invention will be of use in demonstrating static mechanical concepts, such as triangles of forces and levers.

The teaching aid of the second aspect of the present invention will be of use in demonstrating dynamic mechanical concepts such as velocity, acceleration, momentum and energy.

Advantageously, the teaching aid according to either aspect of the invention is also adapted to demonstrate both static and dynamic concepts. A preferred teaching aid therefore includes all the components set out above.

A major advantage of the present invention is that it allows the first stage of learning about physics, together with its improved understanding, to be brought into the classroom environment so that what is taught in the classroom can be more readily understood.

Preferably the lengths of track comprise two rails held rigidly parallel by means of spacers.

The rails are preferably made of plastics materials and the spacers are formed from nuts and bolts.

Alternatively, the lengths of track comprise a base supporting four equally spaced, parallel vertical walls to accomodate the objects which may run down the track. In this embodiment each length of track preferably has a fifth lower vertical wall which runs along the centre of the track. These lengths of track are preferably connected by means of snap-on jointing means.

Preferably, the weights may straddle the lengths of track. Alternatively, however, the teaching aid includes means for supporting the weights; said means comprising a longitudinal slot in each length of track and a number of supports slidable in the slot, the supports including an abutment, such as a hook, for receiving a weight.

Conveniently, the supports can be fixed in position by use of a screw device.

Preferably the objects which may run freely on the lengths of track are ball bearings, marbles, ping pong balls, or carriages or similar such rolling stock.

Preferably the support system comprises pylons and rods, wherein the rods support the track and the pylons support the rods. Preferably the pylons are arranged so that the rods may be supported at a height which is a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of length.

It is also preferable that the pylons are formed from modular units and may be built up to the desired height as required.

The teaching aid of the present invention preferably includes a plurality of pulleys, the axle of each of which is mountable at at least one end of a length of track and is able to support at least one of the weights, each pulley having a mass equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of mass.

Preferably, the teaching aid further includes any one or any combination of the following components: (1) a plurality of lengths of light, inelastic, flexible, elongate material for connecting carriages, weights and pulleys to similar or dissimilar components in any desired arrangement.

(2) a plurality of end pieces of track, each of which is pivotally connectible to the end of a length of track; (3) a plurality of means for attaching a pulley to a length of track intermediate the ends of the length of track; (4) a plurality of elevating means, in each of which a pulley may be mounted for elevating the axle of the pulley above the plane of the track; and (5) a plurality of magnets adapted to be mounted in or on a carriage, each magnet having a mass equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of mass.

It is to be noted that in the present specification "multiple or submultiple" is used in the sense used in describing measurements using the S.I. system. Thus, the multiples or submultiples are soley powers of ten, and do not include multiples or submultiples of other numbers.

It is preferred that the standard units of length and mass are those standards used in the S.I.

system, and are therefore the metre and the kilogram.

In respect of the use of "multiple and submultiple" and the S.I. system in general, reference can be made, for instance, to British Standard PD 5686 and to "Changing to the Metric System - Conversion factors, symbols and definitions" by Pamela Anderton and P.H. Bigg of the National Physical Laboratory, 5th Edition, published by HMSO (IBSN 0 11 480046.4).

The weights used in the teaching aid may all be the same, for instance of one hectogram (=100 grams) or may comprise a number of different weights, such as decagram, hectogram and kilogram weights. Preferably, the weights are formed so that they can be stacked one on top of the other, advantageously such that they are temporarily fixed together. For instance the weights may be provided with complementary male and female fittings which snap fit together.

The lengths of track used in the teaching aid are preferably all the same, and are conveniently metre or decimetre lengths. Alternatively, the lengths of track may be of various lengths, such as metre, decimetre and centimetre lengths.

Preferably, each length of track has a male fitting at one end and a female fitting at the other end, whereby each length of track can be connected to any other length of track.

Alternatively, but less conveniently, there may be two types of length of track, one type having male members at each end and the other type having female members at each end.

Conveniently, the lengths of track have therein grooves for guiding the carriages therealong.

Preferably, the lengths of track can be snap-fitted together. For instance, the male ends may comprise a narrowed track portion having protruding on either side thereof a stub shaft. The female ends will then comprise a complementary recess for receiving the narrowed track portion, there being holes for receiving the stub shafts in the side edges of the recess.

Alternative means for pivotally interconnecting the lengths of track will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art.

Preferably, the lengths of track are made of a low friction material such as polypropylene.

Alternatively, the lengths of track may be made of a higher friction material coated with a low-friction finish such as polytetrafluoroethylene.

The carriages will be selected in combination with the track to be used. Preferably, the carriages run on wheels, but any other means, such as rollers or frictionless slides, could be used.

Preferably, all carriages have the same mass, but this is not necessary.

Preferably, the pulleys are designed so that their axles can either fit in the female fitting of a length of track or can support at least one of the weights, for instance by use of a length of the flexible material.

The flexible material is preferably string or an equivalent plastic material, such as a polypropylene fiber or braid. For instance, fishing line may be used. The pulleys should be designed so that the flexible material selected can engage the pulley circumference.

The orientation determining means may be as simple as a plumb-line or spirit level in combination with a protractor, or may be a more sophisticated electronic device of the type already known to those skilled in the art. Alternatively, if the length of track and the height of the pylons are known, the angle between the track and the vertical or horizontal may be calculated.

It is to be noted that a length of track, when arranged on an incline, can be regarded as being the hyoptenuse of a right angle triangle.

This by itself can be used for teaching elementary aspects of trigonometry. Moreover, the practical use of trigonometry can be taught. For instance, the effect of gravity along the track is related to the cosine of the angle, and the height of the top of the track above its bottom is related to the sine of the angle.

The means for measuring time intervals again may be very simple, such as a wrist watch with a timer or a stop watch, or may be an electronic timer activated by photocells, trip wires or sensor pads.

Again many suitable timers are known in the art and a suitable one can be chosen without difficulty.

The end pieces for the track, where present, can be useful for holding a carriage in position prior to the beginning of an experiment, thus ensuring that the carriage travels exactly the distance determined by the number of lengths of track used. However, the end pieces are not necessary, as a normal length of track could be used for the same purpose.

The attaching means, where present, can be used to demonstrate various aspects of mechanics by attaching different weights to pulleys. They may comprise, for instance, U-shaped hooks which clip into or onto the track.

The elevating means, where present, preferably are attachable to the end of a length of track by use of a complementary male or female member. Preferably, the elevating means are used either to ensure that any forces exerted on a carriage by a length of flexible material are parallel to the plane of the track or to show the effect of varying the line of action of a force.

The magnets, where present, can be used to demonstrate difference between inelastic (without magnets) and elastic (with magnets) collisions, by arranging repelling poles to be adjacent each other in different carriages. It is not the primary intention of the provision of magnets to demonstrate any of the properties of the magnets per se, although this can also be achieved using the teaching aid of the present invention.

Preferably, the teaching aid also comprises a text book or a plurality of teaching cards setting out a programmed series of experiments, and showing how each experiment should be set up and carried out, what measurements should be made, and how those measurements and the parameters set by the apparatus should be interrelated to demonstrate a particular mechanical principle.

Desirably, the carriages, the weights, the pulleys and the lengths of flexible material are all provided with means whereby they may be interconnected. Preferably, the carriages, weights and pulleys have means for receiving hooks and the lengths of flexible material are provided with hooks for reception in the receiving means.

The teaching aid of the present invention has the advantage that it can be used to demonstrate all the important principles of mechanics using only simple apparatus and few measurements as will be explained in more detail below.

It will be appreciated that the teaching aid of the present invention could be made by collecting and adapting known apparatus. However, in order to gain the benefit of the present invention it would be necessary to ensure that the various components were of the required multiple or submultiple of the standard units. If this is not done, then it is not possible readily to relate the various units as will also be explained in detail below.

It is believed that the teaching aid of the present invention is a significant advance in the teaching art and will enable a much more practical approach to the teachings of mechanics to be adopted.

One embodiment of a teaching aid according to the present invention is now described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: Figure 1 is a diagrammatic elevational view of the teaching aid; Figure 2 is a sectional view along line 2-2 of Figure 1; and Figure 3 is a plan view of the ends of two lengths of track prior to joining.

Referring now to the drawings, the teaching aid comprises a number of pylons 1 formed from modular units 3. The modular units 3 are made of plastics material and are designed to stack together conveniently and easily.

The teaching aid also comprises a plurality of lengths of polypropylene track 7. Each length is one metre long and has a male 9 and a female 11 end, as shown in Figure 3. The male end 9 comprises a narrowed portion 12, protruding from each side of which is a stub shaft 14. The female end 11 comprises a recess 15 for receiving the narrowed portion 12 and a hole 17 in the each side of the recess 15 for receiving as a snap-fit the stub shafts 14.

The lengths of track 7 are formed from two rails 8 held rigidly parallel by spacers, 19 such as nuts and bolts. Accordingly, the width of the track is readily adjustable.

A support rod (not shown) passes through each of the rails 8 and is supported at its two ends by pylons 1. The ends of the support rod pass through holes in the modular units 3 to ensure that the track 7 is held steady and at the desired height, since the height of each modular unit 3 is a standard unit in height.

One of the lengths of track 7b is provided with two U-shaped hooks 21 which depend below the plane of the track. At the end of one length of track 7a is provided an elevating means 23.

The teaching aid comprises a plurality of carriages 25, each of which weighs 100g (1 hectogram). The carriages 25 are wheeled, are of 0 or 00 gauge, and are provided with eyes (not shown) for receiving hooks.

A plurality of weights 27 of different types are provided. The weights 27 can be nested together by snap-fit connections (not shown) and are provided with receiving means, such a eyes (not shown). The weights 27 comprise decigram, hectogram and kilogram weights.

The teaching aid further comprises a plurality of pulleys 29. Each pulley weighs 10g (1 decigram) and has an axle which is adapted to be a snap-fit in the holes 17 in the female end 11 of each length of track 7. The axles are also adapted to support the weights 27 via U-shaped hooked fittings 33.

The teaching aid also includes a plurality of extruded polypropylene single fibres 35 which are provided at both ends with hooks (not shown) for connection with the eyes on the other components of the teaching aid.

A protractor 37 in combination with a plumb line 39 is used to determine the orientation of the lengths of track 7 with respect to the vertical.

The teaching aid also includes a stop watch (not shown), a plurality of magnets (not shown), each weighing 1 decigram, and a text book showing how to carry out a programmed series of experiment. The carriages 25 are provided with slots 41 for receiving the magnets with their poles aligned axially.

The teaching aid shown in figure 1 demonstrates how a number of principles of mechanics can be demonstrated.

With the lengths of track 7 in the position shown in full lines, four experiments are shown. At the extreme right, there is a demonstration of a triangle of forces, in which the tension T in the line 35c and the reaction of the length of track 7d on the carriage 25d are balanced by the force of gravity.

At the extreme left, the carriage 25a and pulley 29a arrangement can be used to demonstrate Newton's laws of motion. The next two carriages 25b, 25c, with and without inserted magnets, can be used to demonstrate elastic and inelastic collisions.

The arrangement of pulleys 29b, 29c and weights 27b, 27c, 27d below the length of track 7b demonstrates another example of a triangle of forces.

If the track is arranged as shown in a single line as an inclined plane, the teaching aid can be used to demonstrate the conversion of muscular energy to potential energy, by lifting the carriage 25e from point A to point B, and the conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy and Newton's laws of motion, by allowing the carriage 25e to roll down the inclined plane.

Moreover, by determining the various parameters set by the configuration of the teaching aid (i.e. length, direction, and mass) and measuring the time taken during the experiment, it is possible to relate the parameters and measurements to concepts such as force, momentum and energy. Since all the measurements and parameters are multiples or submultiples or standard units, the necessary calculations can be carried out readily without the need to obscure the principle shown with complex mathematical calculations.

In an alternative embodiment, the lengths of polypropylene track comprise a base having four equally spaced, parallel vertical walls to accomodate the wheels of the carriages or the like.

A fifth lower vertical wall runs along the centre of the track to accomodate (in conjunction with the two inner vertical walls) other rolling stock, such as ball bearings. The lengths of track are connected together by snap-on jointing means which are made from plastics materials. The use of the jointing means facilitates the alignment of ends of adjacent lengths of track.

It will be appreciated that the present invention has been described above purely by way of example and that variations and modifications of detail may be made without departing from the scope of the invention.

Claims (32)

1. A teaching aid comprising: a plurality of weights, each weight having a mass equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of mass; a plurality of lengths of track, each length of track being connectible to other lengths of track, each length of track having a length equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of length; a support system for supporting at least one length of track in a desired orientation; and means for determining the orientation of each length of track relative to the vertical.
2. A teaching aid comprising: a plurality of lengths of track, each length of track being connectible to other lengths of track, each length of track having a length equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of length; a support system for supporting at least one length of track in a desired orientation; a plurality of objects able to run freely on the lengths of track, each object having a mass equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of mass; means for determining the orientation of each length of track relative to the vertical; and means for measuring time intervals.
3. A teaching aid which includes all the components defined in claim 1 and claim 2.
4. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the lengths of track comprise two rails held rigidly parallel by means of spacers.
5. A teaching aid as claimed in claim 4 wherein the rails are made of plastics materials and the spacers are formed from nuts and bolts.
6. A teaching aid as claimed in claim 5 wherein the lengths of track and the nuts and bolts are all made entirely of non-ferrous material.
7. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein a length of track is adapted to be supported midway between its ends for use as a beam balance.
8. A teaching aid as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 3 wherein the lengths of track comprise a base supporting four equally spaced, parallel vertical walls to accommodate objects which may run along the track.
9. A teaching aid as claimed in claim 8 wherein each length of track has a fifth lower vertical wall which runs along the centre of the track.
10. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the lengths of track are connected by means of snap-on jointing means.
11. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the teaching aid includes means for supporting weights; said means comprising a longitudinal slot in each length of track and a number of supports slidable in the slot, the supports including an abutment, such as a hook, for receiving a weight.
12. A teaching aid as claimed in claim 11 wherein the supports can be fixed in position by use of a screw device.
13. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein objects which may run freely on the lengths of track are ball bearings, marbles, ping pong balls, or carriages or similar such rolling stock.
14. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the support comprises pylons and rods, wherein the rods support one or more track and the pylons support the rods.
15. A teaching aid as claimed in claim 14 wherein the pylons are arranged so that the rods may be supported at a height which is a multiple or a submultiple of a standard unit of length.
16. A teaching aid as claimed in claim 14 or claim 15 wherein the pylons are formed from modular units and may be built up to the desired height as required.
17. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the aid includes a plurality of pulleys, the axle of each of which is mountable at at least one end of a length of track and is able to support at least one of the weights, each pulley having a mass equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of mass.
18. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the aid includes any one of any combination of the following components: (1) a plurality of lengths of light, inelastic, flexible, elongate material for connecting carriages, weights and pulleys to similar or dissimilar components in any desired arrangement; (2) a plurality of end pieces of track, each of which is pivotally connectible to the end of a length of track; (3) a plurality of means for attaching a pulley to a length of track intermediate the ends of the length of track; (4) a plurality of elevating means, in each of which a pulley may be mounted for elevating the axle of the pulley above the plane of the track; (5) a plurality of magnets adapted to be mounted in or on a carriage, each magnet having a mass equal to a multiple or submultiple of a standard unit of mass; and (6) a recoil unit for use when teaching Newton's 3rd Law of action and re-action.
19. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the standard units of length and mass are those standards used in the S.I. system.
20. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the weights are formed so that they can be stacked one on top of the other, advantageously such that they are temporarily fixed together.
21. A teaching aid as claimed in claim 20 wherein the weights are provided with complementary male and female fittings which snap fit together.
22. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the lengths of track are of various lengths, such as metre, decimetre and centimetre lengths.
23. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein each length of track has a male fitting at one end and a female fitting at the other end, whereby each length of track can be connected to any other length of track.
24. A teaching aid as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 22 wherein the aid includes two types of length of track, one type having male members at each end and the other type having female members at each end.
25. A teaching aid as claimed in claim 23 or claim 24 wherein the male ends comprise a narrowed track portion having protruding on either side thereof a stub shaft and the female ends and comprise a complementary recess for receiving the narrowed track portion, there being holes for receiving the stub shafts in the side edges of the recess.
26. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the lengths of track can be snap-fitted together.
27. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the lengths of track have a low friction coefficient.
28. A teaching aid as claimed in claim 27 wherein the lengths of track are made from polypropylene or are made of a higher friction material coated with a low-friction finish such as polytetrafluoroethylene.
29. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein the carriages run on wheels, rollers or frictionless slides.
30. A teaching aid as claimed in any preceding claim wherein all carriages have the same mass.
31. A teaching aid as claimed in claim 18 wherein the elongate material is string, fishing line or an equivalent plastics material, such as a polypropylene fiber or braid.
32. A teaching aid substantially as hereinbefore described with reference to and as shown in the accompanying drawings.
GB8808746A 1988-04-13 1988-04-13 Aid for teaching mechanics Withdrawn GB2217897A (en)

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Cited By (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US6773264B2 (en) * 2002-10-18 2004-08-10 Arthur Joseph Schoendorff Teaching apparatus for mechanics principles
US8585312B1 (en) * 2010-06-16 2013-11-19 Kid Knowledge, Inc. Three dimensional polyhedron frame structure
CN104143276A (en) * 2014-08-21 2014-11-12 韩智 Teaching aid for impact experiment

Citations (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US3520981A (en) * 1968-06-07 1970-07-21 Robert F Chambers Apparatus for classroom physics experiments
US4693687A (en) * 1986-03-14 1987-09-15 Hwang Ming Chuen Apparatus for determining the acceleration of a moving object under gravity

Patent Citations (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US3520981A (en) * 1968-06-07 1970-07-21 Robert F Chambers Apparatus for classroom physics experiments
US4693687A (en) * 1986-03-14 1987-09-15 Hwang Ming Chuen Apparatus for determining the acceleration of a moving object under gravity

Cited By (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US6773264B2 (en) * 2002-10-18 2004-08-10 Arthur Joseph Schoendorff Teaching apparatus for mechanics principles
US8585312B1 (en) * 2010-06-16 2013-11-19 Kid Knowledge, Inc. Three dimensional polyhedron frame structure
CN104143276A (en) * 2014-08-21 2014-11-12 韩智 Teaching aid for impact experiment

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Publication number Publication date
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