Physics Capstones

This year’s AP Physics B capstones were as great as [last year’s]( Click there to read more about how I structure capstones.

* Joe’s [GravitON – A Python based N-Body Gravity Simulator]( Cleanly implemented and well documented VPython implementation of the n-body problem. Can’t wait until Joe offloads process to the GPU!
* Danny’s [Resistance Bands vs Free Weights]( A well-designed experiment to model resistance bands.
* Andrew’s [Amateur Kitchen Rocketry]( Very creative. Have you ever considered building an olive-oil-powered rocket?
* Helen’s [Springboard Diving](Amateur Kitchen Rocketry). Great video analysis and fantastic video interviews of coaches and divers.
* Matt’s [Pony Physics]( Very creative and thorough exploration of the physics of My Little Pony.
* Andrew’s [Rifle Toss]( wonderful application of more advanced physics to determine the energy needed for an 8-rotation rifle toss. (Web page struggles to display the equations; refer to PDF at the bottom.)
* Nathan’s [Physics of Intonation]( answers the question “how important is it to play in tune?” Includes a Python script that calculates superposition and a great Minute Physics-style video.
* Nathan’s [Putt Simulator]( Models the motion of a golf ball on a generated surface. Incredible application of calculus and computational modeling. (Requires Python, VPython, and Matplotlib.)
* Michael’s [Tunnel to the Center of the Earth]( Wonderful Minute Physics-style video supported by Excel-based computational models. Cites Rhett Allain’s [How Long Would It Take to Fall through the Earth](, solves Rhett’s homework, and then assigns his own.

Based on feedback from students, I’m going to make a one change for next year. Several students actively peer reviewed each other’s capstones. This was fantastic and improved the quality. I wanted to make this a required activity next year.

I think this year’s class benefited from seeing examples from last year’s class. Now that I have a diverse collection of excellent capstones to share, students have an easier time understanding what a capstone is and how to present it in an engaging manner.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.