General Physics Lab: Measurements

Equipment and setup

• We will use a triple-beam balance, meter stick, vernier caliper and graduated cup (see Figure 1) to measure the mass of volume of various aluminum objects.
• All these aluminum objects (shown in Figure 2) are made from aluminum alloy 6061. The aluminum block will be measured by both the meter stick and the vernier caliper.
[Click on images to enlarge.]
 1 2

TA Notes
• Perform the experiment ahead of time!
• Please review the formulae for the volume of a block, sphere and cylinder with your students.
• There is an on-line vernier caliper tutorial that you may wish your students to view in class.
• Have students ensure the lab balances are zeroed.
• The uncertainty of a measurement is 20% of the instrument's least count. For the vernier, the uncertainty is +/- 0.01 cm.
• Before leaving the lab, make sure that all masses have been removed from the triple-beam balances and that they are zeroed.
• It is very important to grade your students' lab report for this first experiment before the second experiment begins! This is because students must have their data from experiment #1 returned to them before experiment #2 can be done.
• For homework, you may wish to have students review the on-line Excel tutorial (specifically, sections 1,2,3,7 & 10). You may also wish to quiz them on this at the beginning of the next lab.
• Another homework assignment could be the pre-lab exercise from the second experiment. This exercise involves graphing by hand. (We have found that there is not enough time to do the pre-lab exercise as well as the density experiment during one lab period. However, the graphing by hand exercise is an important one and should be done.) This homework could count as a quiz grade.

Data, Results and Graphs

Enter TA password to view sample data and results of this experiment:

As of now, there are no on-line answers to the questions for this experiment.

Lab Manual

The lab manual for the 124 Calculus-based Physics Lab is available on-line. (The manual for the general physics labs is not.) The TA may wish to print some pages of the 124 manual dealing with precision, accuracy, uncertainty, reading a meter stick and reading a vernier caliper, for their students. To view this manual (MS Word format), enter the TA password:

CUPOL Experiments

Take a look at these CUPOL experiments for an on-line laboratory experience:

If you have a question or comment, send an e-mail to Lab Coordiantor: Jerry Hester