Classification Scheme

Demonstration Classification Scheme

We are in the process of classifying all demonstrations according to the PIRA classification scheme. “PIRA” stands for the Physics Instructional Resource Association, partially supported by the American Association of Physics Teachers. Click here to join the AAPT!

The goal of the PIRA demonstration classification scheme is to provide a logical organization of physics demonstrations and to assign each one a universal and unique number. The structure of the classification system is as follows, however an additional lower case letter was added to the standard PIRA code distinguish between duplications of equipment within our facilities.

Example: 1D60.10.a Howitzer and Tunnel (another name, Ballistic Cart and Bridge)








(motion in two dimensions)



(projectile motion)



(Howitzer and Tunnel)

For more info Click DCS



UW-Madison addition for multiple units, (a, b, c, …)


In order to proceed with the above classification scheme at the UW-Madison. We had to devise a new scheme for equipment. This scheme is based on the PIRA Scheme but uses “EQ” within the id number to state that this item is Equipment and is used in multiple demonstrations. These numbers still use the Area and Topic nomenclature from the PIRA classification scheme which represents the main area that the equipment is stored at. The goal of the (EQ) classification scheme here is to provide a unique number for check out and inventory of all equipment and supplies related to that main area of physics demonstrations. The structure of the classification system is quite similar to the PIRA number and is as follows:

UW-Madison Equipment Classification Scheme


Example: 5B.EQ020.a (Electrometer)




(Electricity and Magnetism)





Equipment Name





For Multiple Units, (a, b, c, … is used to distinguish between item’s of different model & Serial Number)


Current Equipment lists: ME Equipment List

A number of universities also use this PIRA scheme, so you may be able to find more detail about a particular demonstration by typing the demonstration name and the first part of the PIRA number into a any search engine, eg “Cottrell Precipitator 5B30”.