Which Kinds of Laboratory Apparatus Are Used in Physics?

Physics laboratory equipment ranges from simple items such as magnets and thermometers to such complex devices as particle accelerators. The equipment needed depends on the nature of the experiment to be done.

Generally, high school physics classrooms stock the simplest and least expensive laboratory apparatus. Of course, high schools specializing in educating students interested in science and engineering invest in some of the more advanced equipment available. To gain an understanding of physics laboratory apparatus, however, consider the curriculum and experimental gear of a typical public high school physics classroom.

The study of physics begins with learning its basic vocabulary. For this, tools for taking metric measurements and carrying out computations are needed. Students use scales calibrated in grams, meter sticks that show centimeters and millimeters, graphing calculators and similar equipment.

Physics study continues with an introduction to motion. For this, such devices as a liquid accelerometer, a push-pull spring scale set and a bicycle wheel gyroscope are useful.

Light and sound are usually the next topics of study. These experiments require such tools as lasers, mirrors, spectroscopes, tuning forks and ripple tanks.

Energy is a complex subject involving kinetic energy, potential energy, energy transfers, power and work. For experiments exploring energy, students need access to such devices as generators, tesla coils, voltmeters, a UV meter and steel bar magnets.

Other topics introduced include gravity, thermodynamics, gas laws, the theory of Relativity and quantum mechanics. High school experiments related to these topics are very basic and make use of the same gear needed for the subjects previously mentioned.