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Elasticity of Solids: Physics Lab

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  • 0:04 What is Elasticity?
  • 0:23 Physics Lab Steps
  • 1:28 Data Analysis
  • 2:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

After completing this lab, you will be able to explain what elasticity is, and complete an investigation to determine the spring constant of a material. A short quiz will follow.

What is Elasticity?

Elasticity is the ability of an object or material to resume its normal shape after being stretched or compressed. Or in other words, it's the stretchiness of a material or object. Today, we're going to investigate how the force applied to an elastic object relates to the amount it stretches.

Physics Lab Steps

For this physics lab, you will need:

  • A rubber band or rubber band chain
  • A ruler
  • Several hanging masses of different sizes
  • And, a hook or something to hang them on (in a science lab, you can use a ring stand, clamp and bar)

Step 1: Set up your hook or stand so that there's plenty of space underneath it.

Step 2: Measure the length of your rubber band.

Step 3: Attach a rubber band to the hook and let it hang.

Step 4: Hook the lightest mass on the other end of the rubber band, and measure the new length of the band. Repeat for five trials by removing the mass and reapplying it.

Step 5: Replace the mass with the next lightest, and so on until you have measured lengths for 3-5 different masses. Be sure to also note down the mass of each, in kilograms.

Step 6: Average your trials so that you have one length in meters for each mass.

You can record your data in a table. If you haven't already, now it's time to pause the video and get started. Good luck!

Data Analysis

Now that you've collected your data, it's time to analyze it. First of all, we need to calculate the force applied to each mass. The force of gravity is equal to mg, so take each of the masses and multiply them by the acceleration due to gravity on Earth, which is 9.8.

We also need to figure out the extension of the rubber band for each of the masses. To do this, take your average length and subtract the original length. This will give you the average extension of the rubber band for each mass.

We now have the data we need to plot our graph. The force, F, will be plotted on the vertical axis, and the extension, x, will be plotted on the horizontal axis. When you plot your data, it should form a straight line. If it doesn't, that suggests that the rubber band became deformed or otherwise behaved differently as the process continued. Try using lighter weights, or just take a portion of the graph that does look straight and focus on that.

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