Last week I left the rubbish on the streets and encouraged you to make a mess in the classroom. Partly because kinematics does not help us to analyse the forces involved in sweeping rubbish or, more glamorously, an ice hockey puck. This is the realm of kinetics in which we need to consider the forces acting on objects to cause or impede their motion, such as the push from a broom and the friction against the pavement. See the 5E lesson plan attached for more details on how Newton’s laws of motion can be applied in these situations.
You might be thinking ‘why should engineers be interested in forces involved in sweeping rubbish?’ Well, it might not be as glamorous as designing sports equipment but someone has to design street sweeping machines that keep our towns and cities clean and it is arguably more beneficial to society and the environment. Of course, it would be better for the environment if we didn’t drop rubbish that needed sweeping but that’s another post…
For more on 5E lesson plans see: my post entitled ‘Disease of the modern age’ on June 26th, 2013 and ‘Sizzling Sausages’ on July 3rd, 2013.
For a set of videos on kinetics try: http://www.khanacademy.org/science/physics/forces-newtons-laws