Measuring Force: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 Forces All Around Us
  • 0:31 Using Arrows to…
  • 1:00 Measuring Forces
  • 1:34 Force = Mass x Acceleration
  • 2:48 Estimating Bigger Forces
  • 3:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nick Rogers
Forces are measured in terms of a unit called Newtons. They cause objects around us to move or be held together. We draw forces using arrows and measure them with a force meter.

Forces all Around Us

Forces cause things around you to move. They can push things away or pull them closer. You can't see or touch a force, but you can measure its effects.

Some forces are caused by things touching, like when you kick a ball or hit a punching bag. Other forces are caused by invisible effects, like gravity or magnetism. These are the kinds of forces that bind atoms together or make computers work.

Using Arrows to Illustrate Force

When we draw pictures of forces, we usually draw an arrow in the direction the force is moving the object. Can you think of all of the forces acting on an airplane?

An airplane in flight experiences a force of gravity downwards and a lifting force upwards from the wings. It also experiences a force of thrust forward (because the engines are pushing the plane forward) and resistance from the air. Let's draw all of these forces in the right directions using arrows.

Measuring Forces

You can use a device called a force meter to measure the size of a force. Most force meters have a hook that you can use to hang or pull on something. This will cause a spring to move and show you how much force is being applied.

We measure forces using a unit called Newtons. They get this name from one of the most famous scientists of all time: Isaac Newton. He was the first person to describe the force that we know as gravity.

A Newton can be described in another way, measured in kg * (m/sec2).

Force = Mass x Acceleration

This is because:

  • Force = Mass * Acceleration

Newton described this in his laws about physics, which tell us that motion is created by unbalanced forces. He realized that objects that are not moving will remain still, and objects in motion will stay in motion unless a force interferes.

Force, mass, and acceleration are interrelated. If we know any two out of the three, we can find the third.

  • Acceleration = Force / Mass
  • Mass = Force / Acceleration

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