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Newton's Second Law

Figure from experiment 9 from Physics with Vernier


How does a cart change its motion when you push and pull on it? You might think that the harder you push on a cart, the faster it goes. Is the cart’s velocity related to the force you apply? Or, is the force related to something else? Also, what does the mass of the cart have to do with how the motion changes? We know that it takes a much harder push to get a heavy cart moving than a lighter one.

A Force Sensor and an Accelerometer will let you measure the force on a cart simultaneously with the cart’s acceleration. The total mass of the cart is easy to vary by adding masses. Using these tools, you can determine how the net force on the cart, its mass, and its acceleration are related. This relationship is Newton’s second law of motion.


  • Collect force and acceleration data for a cart as it is moved back and forth.
  • Compare force vs. time and acceleration vs. time graphs.
  • Analyze a graph of force vs. acceleration.
  • Determine the relationship between force, mass, and acceleration.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for Physics with Vernier »

Experiment 9 from Physics with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Physics with Vernier</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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