PocketLab Voyager Rides the Intelino Train
by Professor Rich Born
There is a new train out there - the “intelino® smart train, the classic toy train reinvented", according to the developer. Designed for all ages, it is intuitive with its app, has built-in sensors to provide an interactive experience for the user, and is easily programmed with color snaps that allow the user to control intelino's actions. Attach a PocketLab Voyager to the top of the intelino smart engine as shown in Figure 1, and you have a great way for children from 4th grade through middle school to study physical science motion concepts. This lesson describes how these young students can learn the concept of speed in a fun way that also challenges their intellect.
Figure 1 - Voyager rides the intelino smart train
The PocketLab Voyager/intelino Speed Challenge
Here is the challenge for your students:
"Design an intelino track layout and accompanying Voyager experiment that will allow you to determine the three intelino "autopilot" speeds (slow, medium, and fast) from data collected by PocketLab Voyager. All three speeds should be obtainable from a single run of Voyager/intelino on the track layout. Once the train has been started, no more interaction with the intelino app is allowed. The intelino app can run on one device, while the PocketLab app runs on a second device. You can make use of the six provided magnets and a meter stick. How do the three speeds from the Voyager data compare to those shown on the intelino autopilot speedometer? Do the speeds change very much when the intelino engine is pulling the train wagon?"
A Typical Solution to the PocketLab Voyager/intelino Challenge
Figure 2 -Typical speed experiment setup
The following 20-second video shows a run of the experiment on the author's setup. You should notice the spikes in the magnetic field strength when the intelino train and PocketLab pass by each of the magnets. The speed is easily determined by dividing the distance between magnet pairs by the time between the corresponding peak pairs.
Figure 3 shows an Excel graph created from PocketLab data collected during a typical run of the experiment. The six magnetic field peaks are shown with the time for each peak along with the color of the magnet for each peak. The time for Voyager/intelino to traverse the path between the red magnets was 6.48 s - 4.08 s = 2.40 s. The speed is then computed by dividing the distance traveled (72 cm) by 2.40 s, with a resultant speed of 30 cm/s. In a similar manner, the medium and fast speeds are computed. These PocketLab speeds compare well to the speeds that were shown on the intelino speedometer.
Figure 3 - Graph of magnetic field vs. time