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Broadcasting a Lab Measurement over Existing Conductor Networks

Physics Teacher Volume 47, Number 7, ISSN 0031-921X


Students learn about physical laws and the scientific method when they analyze experimental data in a laboratory setting. Three common sources exist for the experimental data that they analyze: (1) "hands-on" measurements by the students themselves, (2) electronic transfer (by downloading a spreadsheet, video, or computer-aided data-acquisition [DAQ] file filled with data that have been measured ahead of time by either the instructor or a third party), or (3) receipt in paper format (e.g, as graphs or tables) of measurements made by either the instructor or a third party. Hands-on experimentation is generally the optimal approach, in that the data's "ownership" by each student or student team makes the student(s) more inclined to appreciate the conclusions drawn from the analysis. However, this method is not always practical, because of the experiment's excessive length, difficulty, delicacy, danger, or expense. Methods (2) and (3) eliminate these technical difficulties, but the students miss out by not experiencing and observing the phenomenon for which they analyze the data. It is not generally appreciated that a solution to this data-procurement problem exists which is intermediate between methods (1) and (2). This hybrid approach involves the generation of data at a single location, in the presence of the students, and the simultaneous broadcast of these data to the students using readily available networks of conducting wires. This hybrid approach combines the experiential benefits of method (1) without its liabilities, and it includes the data-access benefits of methods (1) and (2). This approach is the subject of this paper.


Knipp, P.A. (2009). Broadcasting a Lab Measurement over Existing Conductor Networks. Physics Teacher, 47(7), 471-473. Retrieved December 4, 2020 from .

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