Forces Imposed on Objects: Physics Lab

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  • 0:01 What Is a Force?
  • 0:48 Physics Lab Steps
  • 2:04 Data Analysis
  • 2:40 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 watching this video, you will be able to explain what a force is and complete an investigation of what forces are required to move various objects. A short quiz will follow.

What Is a Force?

A force is a push or pull. Some forces act by touching, like when you literally push your brother around. These are called contact forces. Some forces act at a distance, like gravity. These are called long range or field forces. When you drop a ball, the Earth doesn't need to touch the ball to pull it to the ground; it does that at a distance through the Earth's gravitational field.

Different objects take different forces to accelerate them. There are all kinds of reasons for this. It could be that the two objects have different masses, or it could be that one has more friction. But today, we're going to compare some objects and see what forces we have to impose on them to get them moving.

Physics Lab Steps

For this physics lab, you will need:

  • A spring scale or force meter
  • Three heavy carts or toy cars (the more different they are the better)
  • Something to tie a piece of string to
  • Some string

Step 1:
Attach a piece of string to each cart or toy car.

Step 2:
Attach the other end of the string to the bottom of a spring scale or force meter.

Step 3:
Pull the other end of the spring scale lightly (pulling the car at the same time).

Step 4:
After slowly increasing the force with which you're pulling, the car will start to move. The reading on the spring scale will increase, and then when it starts moving, the reading will drop suddenly. Note down how high the spring scale value gets just before it drops.

Step 5:
Repeat at least five times and note down the force you observe on the scale.

Step 6:
Do the same thing for the second and third carts or cars.

You can collect your data in a table similar to this one:

Example data table
example data table

If you haven't already, now it's time to pause the video and get started. Good luck!

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