Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Circular Motion


The goal of this activity is for students to determine the relationship between the (angular or linear) velocity, radius, and mass on the centripetal force or acceleration necessary to keep an object moving in a circular path.

In the Preliminary Observations, students will observe an object that is swung on a string in a circular path. Students then explore force (or acceleration) and circular motion using a method of their choosing, though instructors may provide a limited number of choices.

During the subsequent inquiry process, students may use a variety of tools ranging from a mass on a string to the Centripetal Force Apparatus. This activity can also be done virtually using Pivot Interactives.

Students should finish the activity having evaluated data graphically and developed an expression relating a center-pointed (centripetal) net force to the properties of circular motion.

Learning Outcomes

  • Design and perform an investigation.
  • Draw a conclusion from evidence.
  • Understand that the centripetal force acting on (or the centripetal acceleration of) an object moving in a circular pattern is governed by one of two relationships

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

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

Science and Engineering Practices

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

Experiment 8 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.

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