# Explore 3: Crash Test Dummies

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1 Explore : Crash Test Dummies Type of Lesson: Learning Goal & Instructiona l Objectives Content with Process: Focus on constructing knowledge through active learning. Students investigate Newton s first law, the law of inertia, using cars, ramps, and clay objects to observe the distance clay objects fly out of a car after impact. After completing the investigation, students relate Newton s first law of motion to daily life and moving cars. The purpose of this lab is to demonstrate inertia. Instructional Objectives: 1. Students state Newton s first law an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force while an object in motion will remain in motion with constant speed and direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.. Students demonstrate in classroom and laboratory situations that an object in motion tends to remain in motion and an object at rest tends to remain at rest.. Given a written scenario in a laboratory investigation, students predict where an object will come to rest when acted upon by a force. Key Question: IPC Content TEKS: Does the mass of a person affect the inertia of the person? What variables measure an object s inertia? 4B The student knows the laws governing motion investigate and describe applications of Newton's laws such as in vehicle restraints Related Process TEKS: (1) Scientific processes. The student, for at least 40% of instructional time, conducts field and laboratory investigations using safe, environmentally appropriate, and ethical practices () Scientific processes. The student uses scientific methods during field and laboratory investigations. () Scientific processes. The student uses critical thinking and scientific problem solving to make informed decisions. The student is expected to: (A) demonstrate safe practices during field and laboratory investigations; The student is expected to: (A) plan and implement experimental procedures including asking questions, formulating testable hypotheses, and selecting equipment and technology; (B) collect data and make measurements with precision; (C) organize, analyze, evaluate, make inferences, and predict trends from data; and (D) communicate valid conclusions. The student is expected to: (A) analyze, review, and critique scientific explanations, including hypotheses and theories, as to their strengths and weaknesses using scientific evidence and information; (B) draw inferences based on data related to promotional materials for products and services; (C) evaluate the impact of research on scientific thought, society, and the environment; (D) describe connections between physics and chemistry and future careers; and (E) Research and describe the history of physics, chemistry, and contributions of scientists.

2 To the Teacher: During this investigation, students reinforce the concept of inertia and its relationship to mass. Newton s first law of motion states that an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force while an object in motion will remain in motion with constant speed and direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. Sometimes we forget that we are in motion while in a car even though we are just sitting still. As the investigation will demonstrate, people will continue to stay in motion if the car stops. The mass will not affect the distance that the clay person travels after the crash. During free fall, as the car goes down the ramp, the acceleration due to gravity is constant no matter what the mass is. Air resistance can affect the results, but in this exploration the shapes of the clay figures are similar. Since the velocity at impact is the same, each unrestrained passenger flies out of the car at the same velocity and should hit at approximately the same distance away. If another force increases the car's velocity before impact, the distance that the passengers will land will increase. Inertia and momentum of each passenger's mass can be observed by using a force pad that indents upon impact or a flat piece of clay where the depth of the impact crater can be observed. An object with greater mass, momentum and inertia will make a larger indentation than an object with less mass, momentum and inertia even if their velocity is the same. Newton s second law is represented by the formula Force = mass x acceleration (F = ma). If a force large enough to move an object is applied, the object will accelerate in the direction of the force. Additionally, the greater the force applied to an object, the greater the acceleration of that object. Newton s third law of motion is often referred to as the action-reaction law. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When a person rides a skateboard, he uses one foot to push himself forward by pushing backward. The following is an correspondence from a physics teacher who field tested Crash Test Dummies: Okay, we actually did the crash test dummies experiment nd hour. We used a Hot Wheels car, angle of ramp = 1 degrees, length of ramp = 0.6 m. We used clay balls that were integral multiples of the mass to the car (unlike an actual collision, where the mass of the occupants is a small fraction of the mass of the system). The "baby" trial had the mass of the car and mass of the clay ball being equal. We did this because we believed that if the balls were small that the system would accelerate at very nearly equal rates for each trial, giving each ball the same initial velocity on its way to the pavement. We video taped three trials with each clay ball/hot Wheels combination. The time it took for the car to travel down the ramp was seemingly not significantly affected by the mass of the "rider." It took 0 frames (.67seconds) to travel down the ramp for each trial. The data concerning the distance traveled by the clay ball seemed quite random and independent of the mass of the ball. The ranges were from cm to 6 cm for the three trials for 1 mass (baby), cm to 5 cm for the three trials for masses (child), and cm to 5 cm for masses (fat adult). This seemed to indicate no particular relationship at all related to the mass of the rider. We further believe that changing the Hot Wheels car to a laboratory acceleration cart would have little affect on the outcome. We will work out the consequences of a much lighter cart relative to the clay balls. Back to the experiment, fourth hour suggested that the end of the ramp be at the edge of the table, as the distances traveled by the balls aren't easily observed as the lab is written. They also suggested using carbon paper over the top of white paper in the landing area to more easily determine the landing point. That still wouldn't help the "fit" of the experiment to inertia. While it would be true that bigger balls have more inertia, they wouldn't have bigger velocities. And the acceleration of gravity on each ball is the same regardless of its mass. So the measurement of distance traveled by the balls doesn't really confirm inertia, it merely confirms that the velocity that the balls leave with, the time they're airborne, and the distance that they travel are all constants Multiple Logical- Mathematical Spatial Bodily- Kinesthetic Consists of the ability to detect patterns, reason deductively and think logically. This intelligence is most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking. Gives one the ability to manipulate and create mental images in order to solve problems. This intelligence is not limited to visual domains Gardner notes that spatial intelligence is also formed in blind children. Is the ability to use one's mental abilities to coordinate one's own bodily movements. This intelligence challenges the popular belief that mental and physical activities are unrelated.

3 Materials: Car that will hold a clay person Ramp Books/blocks Milk carton with sand or other wall Modeling clay Rubber bands of various sizes Meter stick SAFETY NOTE: Remind students that the clay is for creating the crash test dummies and not to be used inappropriately. Rubber bands should not be shot at another person. See also Texas Science Safety Manual for lab and investigation guidelines: Engage: Show crash test dummy animation. Science Photo Library: Crash Test Dummies d=760. Discuss seat belt safety with your students. Focus your questions on the motion of the people and objects within a moving car and with what happens when a car comes to a sudden stop. Facilitation Questions: 1. Why do we wear seat belts when riding in a car?. What happens when the driver slams on the brakes to stop the car quickly? What does your body do?. Have you ever experienced a car crash? What happened? 4. Have you watched crash test dummy commercials? Explore: 1. Set up the ramp on the books. Place the milk carton with the sand on its side at the bottom of the ramp to create a short wall for the car to crash into.. Form three clay people of varying masses. The clay people could represent an adult, a teenager, and a baby.. Place one of the people in the car and let it roll down the ramp and crash into the wall. Measure the distance the person flies out of the car over the wall. If the wall is too tall, a different object might be needed to act as a wall. Record the distance in a data table. 4. Complete three trials with each clay person and record your results. 5. After all measurements are taken, secure one of the people in the car using a rubber band as a seat belt. Roll the car down the ramp and observe what happens. 6. Repeat the process with each person. Record your observations. Meter stick

4 Explain: DATA TABLE: Copy into your journal. Trial Baby 1 Teen 1 Adult 1 Distance clay person flew (cm) Observations 1. Describe Newton s first law of motion? An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force while an object in motion will remain in motion with constant speed and direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.. What factors, besides mass, could have affected how far each passenger flew out of the car? If the velocity was different because I did not let the car go the same distance, the passenger would not be going at the same velocity as the other passengers so would not travel the same distance. Friction could affect my results. If the clay passenger stuck to the car, it would have trouble moving when the car stopped. Air resistance could have affected my results if I shaped my figures differently and air slowed down one passenger more than the others.. What is inertia and which person had the greatest inertia? How do you know? Inertia is the tendency of an object to remain at rest or stay in motion. The adult had the greatest inertia because that person had the greatest mass (for the same velocity) Note: If the impact crater can be measured for the depth of impact, the student can use this in the answer.) 4. Why did the people fly out of the car? They were not restrained. 5. What is the independent variable for this investigation? The mass of the clay person. 6. What is the dependent variable for the investigation? The distance the clay person flew after the collision. 7. What variables were held constant in this investigation? Height of the ramp, car, and distance the car traveled. 8. What could be done to the car to make the people fly out farther? If the car is going faster, the people are going faster and have more momentum. Car will go faster if height is increased or if given a push. 9. What is the relationship between mass and inertia? As the mass of the object increases, its inertia increases. Mass is the measure of inertia of a body and it is measured in kilograms. 10. When the seat belts were put on the passengers what happened to the people when the car hit the milk container barrier and stopped? If the seat belt functioned properly, the person stayed in the seat and was not thrown out. 11. Why should the velocity of each car be the same at impact even if the mass is different? Since the car is going down the ramp, it is under the influence of gravity and gravity pulls with the same acceleration even if the car has a different mass. 1. Why did the mass differences of the baby, teen and adult do little to affect the distance each flew out after the collision? The baby, teen and adult had the same velocity as they flew out of the car at impact so they should travel the same distance unless friction, air resistance or

5 another force interferes. They had different momentum values because their masses were different. Elaborate: 1. How can you relate this investigation of Newton s first law of motion to daily life when you wear seat belts in a car? When we wear seat belts, they keep us in our seats in the event our car stops suddenly.. A friend does not wear his seat belt when in the car. From this investigation, how could you convince him of the importance of wearing seat belts? Wearing a seat belt is important because it prevents you from being thrown out of a car.. Change the experiment so that the velocity of the impact changes (Use different heights of ramp) and use the same passengers. Compare the distances that the unrestrained passengers fly out and the depth of the impact crater. 4. Measure the depth of the impact crater for each unrestrained passenger and apply the concepts of inertia, momentum and the Law of Conservation of Momentum to the data. Are there other ways to observe the differences in momentum and inertia?

7 Sample TAKS Items: A group of students conducts an investigation to determine if the velocity of a car at impact affects the distance that an unrestrained object flies out of a car when the car suddenly stops when it collides with a stationary object. Analyze the data below and answer the following questions Average Distance Velocity of Car that an at Impact (m/s) unrestrained object flies out (m) What was the independent variable in the investigation? A B C D mass of object in car average distance the car traveled average distance the object flew out of the car velocity of the car at impact. What was the dependent variable in the investigation? A B C D mass of object in car average distance the car traveled average distance the object flew out of the car velocity of the car at impact. Which of Newton s laws of motion describes why the object flew out of the car when the car hit the stationary object? A B C D Newton s 1 st law of motion Newton s nd law of motion Newton s rd law of motion Newton s 4 th law of motion References/Resources/Websites: Computer Animations of Physical Processes: Crash Test Dummies cartoons The Physics Classroom Crash Test Dummies Information: Larson, G. (1988). Night of the Crash Test Dummies. Missouri: FarWorks, Inc. ISBN # History of the Crash Test Dummies and Safety: Science Net Links, It s a Crash Test, Dummy, Lesson: Science 911: Car Crash Testing: Sample Assessment Items for Force and Motion: Science Photo Library: Crash Test Dummies Forces, Acceleration, and Car Crashes

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