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Al Tobias (wat4y) - Office: Gibson S123 & Physics 218, (434) 924-0538

Physics Demo Manual

Demonstrations are cataloged according to PIRA Bibliography


Due to Physics Building renovations, the lead time to set up demo requests has increased due to the need to transport equipment across campus. Please be kind and let me know well ahead of time what you need.

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 Motion In One Dimension
 Motion In Two Dimensions
 Newton's First Law
 Newton's Second Law
 Newton's Third Law
 Statics Of Rigid Bodies
 Applications Of Newton's Laws
 Work and Energy
 Egg in a Sheet
 Reaction Cars
  video  - Ballistics on Air Track
 Ballistic Pendulum
 Fire Extinguisher Rocket Cart
 Water Rocket
 Rocket Tricycle
 Methanol Rocket (Explode a Milk Jug)
 Match Rocket
  video  - 2-Liter Bottle Rocket
  video  - Hovercraft
  video  - Air Track Collisions
  video  - Newton's Cradle Collisions
  video  - Battering Ram Collisions
 Gauss Gun - Elastic and Inelastic Collisions
  video  - Double Ball Bounce
  video  - Air Table Collisions
 Rotational Motion
 Properties of Matter

 video  - 2-Liter Bottle Rocket


Shows that a large transfer of momentum can be obtained with the ejection of a small amout of mass if that mass is moving fast enough.


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  DEMO VIDEO DOWNLOAD - normal speed  

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  DEMO VIDEO DOWNLOAD - slow motion  

A single 1 second burst (or 3 quick bursts) of hair spray is all you need, it's pretty potent stuff. After spraying, quickly bring a lit match or lighter up to the opening. The bottle will travel from the big bench in Rm. 203 up to the back of the room with enough speed left to dent itself as it hits the wall. Can be reused any number of times (as long as not too much hairspray is used) by blowing air into the bottle to clear out the exhaust gases.


  • Use 30 to 80 lb test braided fishing line and hang taut. We have used "izorline" braided low stretch Dacron line (30 lb Orange).
  • Be careful not to burn the line the bottle rocket is hanging on. The aluminum tube is there to help protect against burn. Make sure rocket is touching rubber stopper before lighting so that flame and exhaust starts out under aluminum tube.
  • The bottle cap has a 1/4" hole drilled into it.


  • C-clamp
  • light string
  • Support Rod
  • 2-Liter Plastic bottle
  • Lighter