How to teach experimental physics with a basic laboratory?

by iw_inundaweb 17 May

Many teachers have been looking for ways to optimize teaching and practice in laboratories are helpful in this regard, especially in specific disciplines such as chemistry and physics. But unsophisticated teachers need to teach experimental physics with a basic laboratory.

Most of the schools do not have all the necessary infrastructure to make experimental classes possible. Because of this, many teachers find it difficult to promote this type of learning among students.

Despite this difficulty, choosing practical experiments makes all the difference. In addition to enhancing the learning process, they also promote a more dynamic and interactive education.

All this can be obtained in a basic laboratory, either in the use of alternative materials or in the acquisition of multifunctional equipment and accessories.

Tips on how to teach experimental physics with a basic laboratory

Sophisticated equipment and specific appliances are perfect for experimental physics classes. However, it is possible to teach experimental physics with a basic laboratory, through the use of alternative or low-cost materials.

Use of recyclable materials

Recyclable materials are widely used for a huge range of purposes such as decoration, organization, toys, accessories and even construction. In experimental physics it would be no different.

Pet bottles, scrap metal, cardboard, aluminum cans, scraps of electric wires that could be thrown in the trash can be part of the most varied experiments.

With the popularization of knowledge on the internet, the teacher finds an inexhaustible source of experiments and even construction of equipment with scrap, everything step by step.

Construction of equipment in conjunction with students

The most skilled teacher can build equipment and set up experiments with alternative materials. But it can involve students in the task, whether in the classroom or as out-of-school supplementary activities.

The purpose of involving them goes beyond the teaching of physics. Students involved in this type of project end up awakening and developing other skills, such as:

  • Working in collaboration;
  • Leadership;
  • Conflict resolution;
  • Troubleshooting;
  • Critical thinking;
  • Creativity;
  • Spatial vision;
  • Manual skills, etc.

Low cost equipment and accessories

The execution of experiments with recyclable materials is quite broad, but it encounters some barriers. If the teacher does not have manual skills, tools or time, the recyclable material will not be a solution.

The alternative is to invest in multifunctional equipment or accessories. The advantage is that they are usually of low acquisition cost.

For example, stems, tripods and metal fasteners, graduated containers, calibrated masses or a digital scale (the kitchen scale is sufficient) are important accessories for diverse assemblies.


For basic experiments in mechanics one can acquire dynamometers, measured masses, mobile pulleys, beads and a hand-held chronometer. In addition to small equipment like Newton’s Pendulum and a gyro.

For hydrostatic studies we suggest syringes, silicone tubes and some acrylic or glass tubes or containers.

Electricity and Magnetism

For electricity studies we suggest battery power supplies, low amperage power supply, connection cables, simple multimeter, small protoboard, single electronic components (resistors, lamps).

Magnetism and electromagnetism require magnets, iron powder, compass and moldable wire pieces (for magnetic-balance experiments).

For the electrostatic some straws, different material sticks, flannel and a simple electroscope,

Wave and acoustic

For wave experiments and acoustics we suggest a set of springs, strings (for standing wave) and small tuning forks.


For thermodynamic experiments we suggest heat sources (electric stoves and lamps), Styrofoam cups with lid (for specific heat studies), thermometer and metal test bodies of different materials and shapes (balls and rods).


For optical studies, mainly the geometric optics (the most studied) we suggest sets of acrylic lenses, small mirrors (flat, concave and convex), small lasers or a light source directed with single and multiple beam.


Infrastructure should never be a limiting factor for physics teaching. Of course teachers struggle to have more adequate spaces in their places of teaching, however, it is necessary to look for alternative ways that allow students to teach experimental physics.

See how it is possible to teach experimental physics with basic laboratory? It’s all about investing in the right equipment, but also the use of low-cost materials that can help students in this learning process.

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