Sunday, November 04, 2007

Cumulative Unit Assignment - Physics - Grade 12

For all High School Physics Teachers working on the Energy and Momentum Sections
please feel free to borrow from this Cumulative Unit Project that my colleagues and I helped develop.

Cumulative Unit Project


1. An analysis of Automobile safety and automobile collisions.
2. Examination of a design to reduce collision frequency and promote vehicle safety.


Students will:

Describe the physics of automobile collisions in terms of momentum, energy, force, impulse, displacement and acceleration.

Analyze video segments of automobile collisions. Noting all physical features present and absent
Describe the process of accident reconstruction.
Outline methods that safety administrators use to ensure highway and general road safety.

Teacher will provide:

Some class time to work on the project
Links to Accident Reconstruction sites:
· A Rubric for Evaluation
· Organizing student Groups (no more than three students per group).

Student Groups will be responsible for:

· Group Organization and Division of Labour
· Literature search
· a well-defined project proposal for the video analysis of automobile collisions which includes (1) a statement of the purpose, (2) a step-by-step procedure for collecting data from the video segments, and (3) a clearly-defined procedure for interpreting experimental data.
· A model based simulation of an accident – to be designed by the group.
· A proposal for safety features (in and out) of the vehicles to prevent such accidents or in the worst case reduce their severity.
· One Report per student showing: experimental procedure, literature survey, experimental tables, any graphs, results, the discussion of automobile safety.

Key Questions to think about:

Use free-body diagram analyses to describe the forces acting upon cars prior to a collision and during collisions.
Define and distinguish between elastic and inelastic collisions and relate such terms to automobile collisions.
Define impulse and momentum and use the impulse-momentum change theorem to quantitatively and qualitatively analyze automobile collisions.
Explain the law of momentum conservation and use it to perform mathematical analyses of collisions.
Describe how the vector nature of momentum can be used to mathematically analyze collisions.
Use the work equation and the work energy-theorem to explain the role of crumple zones and chassis deformation in a collision and explain how measurements of the amount of chassis deformation can be used to make estimates of pre-collision speeds of vehicles.
Describe the methods used, the questions asked, and the information sought in an accident reconstruction scenario.
Identify a few safety devices used in automobiles and use diagrams and words to explain the underlying science.

Source of idea for this project:
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