TWO SEMESTER-LONG MECHANICS PROJECTS
Nicholas Park is a Modeling Workshop leader in Dallas, TX. In January 2017, he posted the following to the physics modeling listserv:
Following the Buck Institute Project-Based-Learning model, we have structured our Mechanics curriculum around two major projects, introduced in day one. This then provides the student motivation, the "why do I care" about these models. They also inform our decisions about which smaller parts of the models must be included and which can be omitted as time demands.
The first project is the analysis of an accident scene [collision] to determine information about initial speeds and forces of impact. This motivates student's study of CVPM, CAPM, Balanced and Unbalanced forces, Momentum transfer and Impulse. They can't do most of the work on the project until they've built most of these models, but they know where they are going.
The second project is the design and construction of a roller coaster. This motivates their study of projectiles (for a zero-g hill), energy and circular motion, and also builds on their prior knowledge of the other topics. The "unit test" for each unit in this course is actually related to the project.
Nicholas later wrote this to Jane Jackson:
The roller coaster project is pretty standard (there is one quite similar in the v2 mechanics materials), except that we added the requirement of an extended 0g hill to include projectiles. ... The v2 materials are, to the best of my knowledge, labeled only “v2” on the AMTA site and on the flash drives – they are the original Larry Dukerich materials [i.e., version 2 of the mechanics curriculum: copyright 2006].
We modified the collision project from :
The real magic was using the Buck Institute’s method for introducing the project and using it to guide the trimester. For more on that, see
You can download Nicholas’ two coaster project documents at
Download his adaptation of the collision project (which Michael Haskins worked with him on) at