Physics 1 Lab Activity

Making Hypotheses1

[Chapter 1 Objectives]

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A great deal of the work a scientist does consists of making observations of nature, and then formulating hypotheses to try to explain these observations. In this activity, you will observe the operation of a "mystery apparatus", and try to figure out how it works. You may look as closely as you wish and ask questions, but you may not touch the "mystery apparatus" (or take it apart!). Finally, you will report your findings to your class and the class must reach a consensus (generally accepted agreement) about how the "mystery apparatus" works.

You should work with a partner during this activity, and turn in one lab report for your team.


  1. Make a sketch of the "mystery apparatus" that your teacher has assembled. Label your sketch.
  2. Observe the operation of the "mystery apparatus". Write a brief description of its operation.
  3. Attempt to explain what is happening in the "mystery apparatus" and how it works. Use a sketch if it would be helpful.
  4. Discuss your observations and hypotheses with your classmates. The class should reach a consensus about how the "mystery apparatus" works. Write a brief description of this explanation.


  1. Is your explanation of the "mystery apparatus" a theory? If not, what is it, and what would it take to make it a theory?

1adapted from Robinson, Laboratory Manual for Conceptual Physics, Addison Wesley

[Chapter 1 Objectives]

 BHS -> Mr. Stanbrough -> Physics -> About Science -> this page

last update September 18, 2007 by JL Stanbrough