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Data-rich carts offer new avenues for teaching physics

April 26th, 2016

smart cart

New dynamics cart includes onboard sensors that wirelessly transmit position, velocity, acceleration and force data, whether on or off the track

PASCO Scientific has released a new solution for quantitative forces and motions experiments for physics and physical science: the PASCO Smart Cart.

The carts are designed to help teach concepts in forces and motion. Currently, many schools utilize low-friction dynamics carts and tracks, and then attach sensors to allow students to collect data from their experiments.

The new carts, however, take all of the sensor technology previously connected via lengthy wires and embed it directly into the cart. Its onboard sensors wirelessly transmit position, velocity, acceleration and force data directly to a computer or mobile device via Bluetooth. Not only does this lower the cost of conducting quantitative experiments, but it provides improved measurements because there are no cords to interfere with experiment outcomes. In addition, the Smart Cart can be used to collect data on or off a track.

Using the Smart Cart, teachers can lead hands-on demonstrations to collect and analyze data for concepts including position and displacement, speed and velocity, one dimensional motion, acceleration, Newton’s laws, friction, kinetic energy, conservation of momentum, elastic and inelastic collisions, conservation of energy, and more.

Priced at $159 in the U.S., the Smart Cart takes hundreds of dollars worth of technology and wirelessly integrates it into a single simplified system. The cart is based on a durable ABS body with nearly frictionless wheels. It includes a built-in force sensor that measures forces up to 100N collisions, three-axis accelerometer, built-in motion encoder for measuring position and velocity on or off a track, rubber bumper, magnetic bumper, hook, three-position spring plunger, mass tray, Velcro® tabs, rechargeable battery, and USB port and cable for charging.

The Smart Cart was named a finalist for a GESS (Global Education Supplies and Solutions) Innovation Product award for 2016.

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Material from a press release was used in this report.