Charlie Cardinal Low-Cost Physics Activities


Physics experiments/activities do not have to be costly in time or resources.  Teachers also do not need to limit their equipment purchases to "high tech" or specialty materials sold exclusively through science supply catalogs.  Many valuable data collection activities can be performed using inexpensive materials that may be purchased from local department, hardware, and/or toy stores.  The activities contained in the chart below represent a few of what I personally consider the "best for the buck" when it comes to introductory physics' essential laboratory activities on a tight budget. 

Activities similar to these using a variety of materials may be found in numerous lab resource materials.  The purpose of this web page is not to introduce new and/or unique lab activities, but to present some of the most common and valuable lab experiences involving real data collection or qualitative investigations in a format for use with inexpensive materials.  Activity worksheet documents are presented in Microsoft Word format so that they may be more easily modified according to the individual needs of each user. 

Click on a MS Word "Worksheet Link" to download an experiment/activity worksheet.   "Web Links" provides links to other web pages with activities/information/simulations related to the chosen physics topic (all links active as of 4/7/2008). 

Activity Links:

*I am not responsible for the content of any of the web links.


In addition to these activities, video analysis technology now provides a cost-effective way to perform numerous mechanics investigations. Go to Video Analysis: Real World Investigations for Physics and Mathematics for more information.

Comments or Questions Regarding This Site:

For questions or comments regarding the use of these activities, to suggest other lab activities, or to request a professional development session on the use of inexpensive materials for teaching physics, please contact:

Joel A. Bryan, Ph.D.
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306-0505
(765) 285-4718