I wouldn’t have bought this air track for just my kids, its too expensive. But one of the advantages of doing science with a group is splitting the cost of equipment. Since we’l be doing honors (AP) level physics this year I thought this was a worthy investment. We’l probably use it for 6 or 7 weeks of mechanics labs – motion at constant velocity, constant acceleration, elastic and inelastic collisions, conservation of momentum and simple harmonic motion (you can hook up two spring to a cart and watch it oscillate back and forth on the track). We’l use the Video Physics iPad app to record and analyze the motion.
My younger son wanted to bring it out to show his older brother how it worked since he’d been at camp when it arrived. I think he’s a bit disappointed we’re not using it in his science class this year, but he can be my tester and test out the labs before the physics class or even participate in the class if he wants. But as we were setting it up he asked what would happen if we turned on the air source when it wasn’t attached and we both got the same idea at the same time….let’s levitate a ball! He tried a ping pong ball first and it went flying across the house! Thinking about the exhibit at the Exploratorium with the beach ball balancing in the jet of air, I figured we needed a ball a bit bigger than our hose so the air would curve around the ball and keep it in place. The small earth ball worked perfectly and if you give it a spin it is quite stable! I hadn’t even thought about what I could do with the air source by itself so now I can add a few labs to our schedule for fluid dynamics and air pressure.