Reflection: Real World Applications Can You Make The Turn? - Section 3: Make the Turn Activity


With my honors class, I leave them to the worksheet and wander the class providing help. The discussions that we have before giving the worksheet are usually enough to spark ideas on the path to the solution. However, with my college prep class, they need a bit more guidance. I will give them the equation for friction (force of friction = coefficient of friction times the normal force) and challenge them to combine this equation with the centripetal force formula. 

The first time I gave this assignment, I had not drawn the circle on the sheet. This lead to confusion on the part of many students as well as a variety of answers depending on where they drew the circle. I revised the sheet to include the circle where the curvature of the ramp was the greatest. It also could have prompted great discussions on how the curvature of the ramp increases as cars travel along it. This is because cars are expected to be going slower as they exit the highway so this is a sensible thing to do. 

The first Student Work - Circular Motion (*note: download the PDF to see both pages) sample shows a correct method to the solution, but the student neglected to convert the scale from feet to meters which causes problems as they incorporate the acceleration due to gravity value of 9.81 m/s^2. The second example is exactly as I like to see the students solve the problem, where they solve for the variable before plugging in the numbers.

  Real World Applications: student work
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Can You Make The Turn?

Unit 2: Forces in Two Dimensions
Lesson 7 of 16

Objective: Students will apply the concept of centripetal force caused by friction to calculate the maximum speed at which a car can safely make a turn.

Big Idea: The force of friction is the centripetal force that allows vehicles to turn.

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