Smart Carts for Physics

Description (10 points)

PASCO Smart carts will be used to study fundamental principles in physics such as kinematics, dynamics and energy conservation.  The carts have built-in sensors that wirelessly transmit the data to the SPARKvue app on student’s Chromebook or the classroom iPad. The app will graph the data so that the physical relationships can be visualized and analyzed by the students.

Grant Applicant
Susan Lowder
Grant Co-applicants
Grant Date
School Site
Grant Category
Amount Funded
Budget Item(s)
$1521 - Smart Carts (9 - red)
$1521 - Smart Carts (9 - blue)
$300 - Dynamics Track Feet (10 - pairs)
$300 - Dynamcis Track End Stop (10)
$200 - 2.2 m Aluminum Dynamics Track
$120 - USB Bluetooth Adapter (10)
Benefits of Program (10 points)

Smart carts will expand the laboratory options for students in physics. The Smart carts use the same data collection system, the SPARKvue app, that has been used with the other probes at Truckee High School such as pH, temperature and motion sensors so the students will have familiarity with the system.  A critical part of physics is reading and interpreting graphs.  The Smart carts will allow the students to gather data efficiently so that interpretation and utilization of the data can be emphasized.  One of the sensors on the cart is an encoder on the wheels that gathers data on position, velocity and acceleration.  Each cart also has a force sensor and a three-axis accelerometer.

Success of Program (10 points)

Successful use of Smart carts will result in all students acquiring the skills to set up the equipment and interpreting the data collected from a variety of situations. The ease of data collection will allow for more time to study the graphs generated by a particular motion.  The data with the Smart carts can be collected within minutes.  Currently the students use CPO physics equipment (ExinEd 2016 and 2014) to manually collect data for position versus time graphs.  This is a valuable skill, but once acquired it is more important to study position versus time graphs as well as other graphs from a variety of situations.  The Smart carts will expand the experimental possibilities for data collection and it will allow for more experimentation within the class.  Students will have more experience analyzing real time data in a variety of situations such as collisions between objects, acceleration due to a constant force and acceleration of an object in a circle.

Budget Notes

The USB adapter is needed for the student Chromebooks to connect with the wireless Smart carts or the other wireless probes.

Implementation (10 points)

The carts will be used in all physics classes at Truckee High School.  Currently there are two college preparatory courses and one AP Physics 1 class with a total enrollment of about 70 students.  The carts will be utilized in the study of kinematics (position, velocity and acceleration), dynamics (forces, Newton’s first, second and third laws).  Centripetal acceleration and simple harmonic motion will be studied as well as conservation of momentum and energy.  These topics comprise about 85% of the curriculum in the physics classes. 

The Smart carts have a five-year warranty. PASCO equipment is top of the line and durable. The carts will be used with 1.2 m dynamics tracks which were purchased in the 1990’s. The grant includes new feet and end stops for these tracks as well as a longer (2.2 m) track for demonstration purposes.
Can you share this grant with your grade level or subject team?

All physics students and teachers will use the equipment.

Other funding sources

Repairs and or replacement equipment will be funded by Measure A science funds.