Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Below are links to articles on KNEX or physical models in the physics classroom.
Most articles are full-text. Ones that are not can be ordered via interlibrary loan.
Abstracts are included when available.
Robinett, R. W., & Sokol, P. E. (1996). Investigating physical pendula with K'NEX. Physics Teacher, 34(7), 427.
This article is not available full-text online. Order through interlibrary loan
Focuses on the utilization of a simple pendulum to verify and demonstrate the concepts of physics. Multi-level analysis of pendular motion; Geometry of a physical pendulum; Determination of the center of mass and moments of inertia; Experimental applications.
K'nex bridges. (1999). Science Teacher, 66(5), 60.
Request through interlibrary loan
Reports on the extension of the deadline for the Bridges Across America design competition. Use of K'nex pieces as building materials; Presence of civil engineers from the American Society of Civil engineers to act as consultant to participating students.
Heery, J. (1997). New Jersey school implements new teaching tool to .... Curriculum Administrator, 31(7), 9.
Provides information on how teachers in the middle and junior high schools in New Jersey, have implemented teaching tools, to motivate students to master concepts, and apply theories to learning. How K'NEX sets got introduced to St. Rose of Lima School in Haddon Heights; Why the use of the sets; Contents of the sets; Plans of making K'NEX Racer Energy program an annual part of science classes; Impact of K'NEX, on students.
Friedman, D., et. al. (2010). An exploration into inquiry-based learning by a multidisciplinary group of higher education faculty. Higher Education 56.6, 765-783.
Request through interlibrary loan
This manuscript describes faculty and student experiences and future activities of a multidisciplinary group of university faculty who are implementing inquiry-based learning (IBL) in their classrooms for the first time. This opportunity to implement the IBL instructional method was provided to the faculty through a grant from the university’s Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE). The goal of this paper is to provide a discussion on the implementation of IBL in the classroom and students’ responses to IBL. The multidisciplinary group was from the following disciplines: philosophy, journalism and mass communications, business and technology education, public health, civil engineering, and social work. This manuscript describes the (1) fundamentals of the CTE inquiry grant, (2) fundamentals of IBL, (3) IBL strategies and implementation, (4) students’ responses to IBL, and (5) the implications of IBL for higher education.
Includes information on K'NEX models.
Kaplan, G. (2008). Trigonometry through a ferris wheel. The Mathematics Teacher, 102(2), 138.
Students graph the basic trigonometric functions in the traditional study of trigonometry. The students master this material by memorizing it and thus have little comprehension of why and how each value in an equation affects the graph. Here, Kaplan offers an activity designed not only to review and solidify this material but also to engage students in an experiential learning opportunity that requires precise manipulation of the constants (a, b, c and d) in a realistic setting. This project involves building a Ferris wheel from K'nex construction materials, gathering data, and finding a particular trigonometric function to represent the height of a particular seat on the Ferris wheel during its revolutions.
Barnhart, K. (1999). Physics connections. Tech Directions, 59(3), 26.
Request through interlibrary loan
Here's how one teacher found great success in connecting exciting real-world experiences to traditionally abstract concepts.
Ketner, J. (2009). Roller Coaster Physics. Connect Magazine, 22(5), 1-3.
A personal narrative is presented which explores the author's experience in experimenting the potential and kinetic energy in roller coasters on her physics class.
Acceleration in one, two, and three dimensions in launched roller coasters. (2008). Physics Education, 43(5), 483-491.
During a roller coaster ride, the body experiences acceleration in three dimensions. An accelerometer can measure and provide a graph of the forces on the body during different parts of a ride. To couple the experience of the body to pictures of the ride and an analysis of data can contribute to a deeper understanding of Newton's laws. This article considers the physics of launched roller coasters. Measurements were performed with a three-dimensional co-moving accelerometer. An analysis is presented of the forces in the different ride elements of the Kanonen in Göteborg and the Speed Monster in Oslo, which both include loops and offer rich examples of force and acceleration in all dimensions.
Barnhart. (1999). Physics connections. Tech Directions, 59(3), 26.
Discusses how a high school teacher in the United States made a successful connection between real-world experiences and abstract physics concepts. Searching for ways to make basic physics course more relevant and exciting; Review of metric system; Roller coaster physics; Designing and building cars; Applying and enjoying the concepts in an amusement park.
Additions August 2015
Cone, N., Bantwini, B. D., King-McKenzie, E., & Bogan, B. (2014). Differentiating Through Problem-Based Learning: Learning to ExploreMore! with Gifted Students. In Science Teacher Educators as K-12 Teachers (pp. 169-179). Springer Netherlands.
Barriga, J. (2014). Rollercoaster-Energy Transformation.
Appears to be a student research project
Roller coaster passengers do not realize that “as you’re cruising down the track at 60 miles an hour, the ride has no engine” (Annenberg Learner 2013). However, roller coasters are conceived and designed to be motor less. Rollercoaster designs are based on physical laws that govern them. There are many physical laws, but for this matter we will primarily focus on the Law of conservation of Energy and Energy Transformation. The Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed. Energy Transformation is the process of changing one form of energy into another. As a result, roller coasters transform potential energy into kinetic energy and vice versa. This research will focus on energy transformation in loops by validating certain equations. The study will look at different size loops by using the derived equations to calculate the speed of the cart at the top of the loop and the required height to obtain that speed. This research will provide valuable information to prove that roller coasters are designed using these physical laws, as well to inform individuals of how rollercoasters function.