Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

Introduction: Slides 1-5

What is a gyroscope? What is special about a gyroscope? The definition of a gyroscope and it’s basic properties are discussed, ie. it resists tilting.


Bicycle wheel demos:

Two demos are done to introduce two principles of gyroscopes. The students will have no previous knowledge that can explain the demos

1)      Spin bicycle wheel and hold it out vertically. Pass the wheel to a student and ask the student to tilt the wheel. Student should feel that the spinning wheel resists the tilting. Can be done with many students as it is a demo that must be done to be believed.


2)      This demo is done by the instructor (myself) to avoid injuries to students and potential law suits from disgruntled parents of said students. The bicycle wheel is spun up to a high speed and held out horizontally. While standing on the lazy susan, the instructor painfully presses the wheel into his chest with a large force so that the wheel stops as suddenly as possible. This should result in the instructor rotating on the lazy susan in the opposite direction that the wheel was rotating. (Video)


Angular Momentum: Slides 6-26

Review of linear momentum, ie. p=mv and F=Dp/Dt

What do velocity, mass and force correspond to in Angular momentum?

Explanations of angular velocity, moment of inertia and torque.


Explaining the Demos: Slides 27-36

Principles of torque and change in angular momentum introduced earlier are used to describe why tilting the bike wheel is difficult and why stopping the bike wheel induced rotation.


Satellites and Stabilization: Slides 37-39

Explanation of the need for a satellite to adjust and hold its orientation. Use the two bicycle wheel demos to explain how changing the speed of a wheel rotates a satellite and how the rotation of the wheels can be used to hold orientation. The model satellite is used as a physical manifestation of these principles and students are encouraged to try it for themselves.
Video 1 - Using the motors to change orientation.
Video 2 - Using the motors to hold orientation.