CNS — Cases & Projects — Fisica in Moto

May 9, 2015


Laboratorio Fisica in Moto

By Federico Corni

The central aspect of the methodology used in FIM is the application of figurative structures of thought and narrative forms of science to the study of mechanics. The basic concepts of motion are momentum and angular momentum as conserved fluid-like quantities that are subject to flow (leading to what we call forces and torques in formal mechanics) between containers (having capacitances called inertial mass and moment of inertia of the interacting bodies) leading to the balancing of differences of intensities (velocities and angular velocities). In this approach the dynamic laws are recognized as consequences of the nature and behavior of these basic quantities, making mathematical formalism unnecessary. This approach allows the secondary school students to be involved and engaged affectively with mechanics during the time they spend in the lab.

The lab lets secondary school students explore the physical concepts at the basis of the dynamics of motorbikes during three hours of guided tours covering the various experimental stations that have been set up at the lab. We are receiving very positive feedback from the teachers of the classes: students exhibit renewed interest in physics; the activities are suitable even for weak students; and students appreciate and profit from the underlying figurative and narrative approach to the physics of motion.

For the last four years, the FIM laboratory has been offering a Summer School for 25 advanced high school students selected nationwide. They receive a one week full immersion in a team research project relating to the dynamics of motion, as well as technical lessons about motorbike dynamics and thermodynamics, and seminars telling them about university careers.

The projects worked on during Summer school center upon materials at experimental stations. They lead to interpretative system dynamics models where simulation results are fitted to actual time series taken during laboratory experiments. The approach taken here is an interesting version of inquiry based learning.

The students attending the summer school subsequently chose scientific or engineering university careers and some of them stay in contact with the FIM staff.

Local Links…

  FIM at Ducati…
  2012 Summer School
  IE Laboratories


F. Corni