Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the spring of 2020 many physics programs were forced to quickly transition all of their classes and laboratories to a completely online learning environment. The need for simple and engaging remote physics laboratories became apparent. One relatively low-cost remote lab system is Macmillan’s iOLab device. This wireless device comes with free software and a lab manual with many mechanics and electricity and magnetism experiments appropriate for lower-division physics labs. Extensive reviews of the iOLab device, including descriptions of all its sensors and capabilities as well as comparisons with other remote learning devices, can be found in recent publications. In addition, findings from these publications indicate improvements in attitudes toward physics labs and significant conceptual learning gains for students in remote lab courses that use the iOLab device. Here, we present a novel moment-of-inertia lab using the iOLab device and a few household items. In this lab, students will be able to measure the moment of inertia of the iOLab device about an axis parallel to the longer side of the iOLab device (the y-axis in Fig. 1) and through its geometrical center.

2.
T.
Hemmick
, iOLab Experiments for Scientists and Engineers (
Hayden-McNeil
,
Plymouth, MI
,
2019
).
3.
Erik
Bodegom
,
Erik
Jensen
, and
David
Sokoloff
,
“Adapting RealTime Physics for distance learning with the IOLab
,”
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57
,
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(
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).
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Louis
Leblond
and
Melissa
Hicks
,
“Designing laboratories for online instruction using the iOLab device
,”
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59
,
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360
(
2021
).
5.
We use a cutout from a cardboard mailing tube. If students don’t have access to this, they can use masking tape. But note that since we model the tube to be a thin-shelled cylinder of continuous mass distribution, the presence of the tape introduces a source of error
.
6.
See Chap. 3,
“Force and acceleration,” section “Finding the known value of a mass,” in Ref. 2. Instructions on how to find the mass of the device can also be found on the YouTube video produced by iOLabs
, accessible through this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELLk7WrYuHg&t=62s.
7.
Larger slopes yield better results, unless the slope is too large, at which point the system starts to slip instead of roll. We recommend a ramp angle of about 17°
.
8.
It is important to start the device at the very edge of the ramp and not on the incline as demonstrated in Figs. 2 and 4. This is to ensure that the height difference between the point of contact at the top and bottom of the ramp and the height difference between the center of mass of the device at the top and bottom of the ramp are equal
.
9.
If you are using masking tape, you will need to use the formula Itape = (1/2) mtape (R2 + r2), where R and r are the outer and inner radii of the tape, respectively
.
10.
We present results from two different heights to demonstrate the consistency of the experiment, but it is not necessary for students to perform the experiments at two separate ramp heights
.
11.
P. R.
Bevington
and
D. K.
Robinson
, Data Reduction and Error Analysis for the Physical Sciences, 3rd ed. (
McGraw-Hill
,
New York
,
2003
), p.
41
.
12.
The measurement error for the radius comes from the precision of the ruler used to make the measurement, and the measurement error for the angular velocity comes from the standard deviation of the 10 angular velocity measurements
.
13.
Halliday
and
Resnick
, Fundamentals of Physics, 10th ed. (
John Wiley and Sons, Inc
.,
Hoboken, NJ
,
2014
), p.
274
.
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