Module: Sources of Uncertainty

Pre-reading: What are some sources of uncertainty you have given or plan to give for the bouncing balls lab? (Give at least 3 examples).

Since a lot of people had questions about sources of uncertainty, I’ve found two videos that explain sources of uncertainty. I’ve chosen not to make my own because I don’t want to accidentally give away sources of uncertainty in the lab we did. I don’t want to rob you of the opportunity to think!

Videos:

Watching both videos IS required.

This video does a really great job at defining types of uncertainty. You should definitely adopt the language he uses, such as “measurement uncertainty,” “random uncertainty,” and “systematic error.” HOWEVER, this video is also not very good at giving examples, which is what the second video is for.

In this second video, the teacher uses the word “error” where I expect you to use uncertainty. This video has a lot of good examples of sources of uncertainty. Another reason I especially like this second video is that he shows you how to quantify (i.e., assign a number to) your uncertainties. Giving a value to uncertainty is a really high-level skill. I don’t expect you to do it in these first few labs, but extra points may be given to students who do….

After reading: Two choices for this question:

1) Come up with two new sources of uncertainty and explain why you chose them (use language and reasons from the videos).

2) EXPLAIN the three sources of uncertainty you gave in the pre-reading question, using language and reasons from the videos.

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