Last week I attended the LivePhoto Workshop, which was held at Vernier Software and Technology just outside of Portland, OR. Sometime between my TAing a general physics lab my first year of graduate school and starting my last faculty position video analysis became popular in general physics lab curricula, and I wanted to get up-to-date on the techniques. Video analysis can be used effectively in physics labs and demos to monitor and measure motion and other physical phemonema. It’s a far cry from the scary sparking metal cylinder drop we used when I was an undergraduate to measure the acceleration due to gravity from marks on a strip of paper!
In the workshop, we covered the basics of good video set up and experimental practices, as well as the Logger Pro software from Vernier. I learned that you can also download media from the web for use in Logger Pro. For the remainder of the week, the workshop participants divided up into groups and worked on projects.
In my project, I was interested in measuring the acceleration due to gravity of Old Spice Man in the swan dive of his latest commercial. This media campaign went viral the week of the workshop and I thought it would be a fun example of how students can take media of interest to them and measure physical quantities. As seen in the image at the top of this post, I tracked Old Spice Man’s position over time and made some measurements of his acceleration. My conclusion? You’ll have to wait on that! Actually, I’m still discussing the measurements with my favorite physicist (a.k.a. my husband) because the issue is surprisingly a bit tricky to interpret due to camera motion. But I’ll post an analysis soon.
During the course of the workshop it was also nice to see the Vernier headquarters. If you spend enough time in physics you get a certain nostalgia for the equipment you used in educational labs, so I’ve got a soft spot for Vernier. The headquarters is a great building with lots of environmentally friendly features, such as the garden in the image below. The garden serves to filter water runoff from the building and to trap oil and other contaminants before the water gets to the storm sewer. It’s also a great landscape feature.
The Verniers themselves, the owners of the company, were really friendly to the LivePhoto workshop group and I enjoyed getting to meet them.
Many thanks to the NSF for supporting this workshop.