Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Balanced Forces and Unbalanced Forces

Figure from experiment 2 from Physics Explorations and Projects


The goal of this activity is for students to understand the connection between constant velocity motion and zero velocity with balanced forces, and non-constant or accelerated motion with unbalanced forces.

In the Preliminary Observations, students observe an object moving under the influence of zero net force and an object moving under the influence of unbalanced forces. We recommend that you do this as a whole-class activity. Students then design an experiment and compile evidence for a connection between constant velocity and balanced forces as well as a connection between changing velocity and unbalanced forces.

Learning Outcomes

  • Design and perform an investigation; draw a conclusion from evidence
  • Identify constant velocity motion and motionlessness as an indication of balanced forces
  • Identify any change in velocity (speed or direction) with unbalanced forces

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Option 4

Option 5

Additional Requirements

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

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS2.A Forces and Motion
  • PS2.B Types of Interactions

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Patterns
  • Cause and Effect
  • Systems and System Models
  • Structure and Function

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Planning and carrying out investigations
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Using mathematical and computational thinking
  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
  • Science models, laws, mechanisms, and theories explain natural phenomena

Experiment 2 from Physics Explorations and Projects Lab Book

<i>Physics Explorations and Projects</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.

Buy the Book

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