Recommended for High School through College.
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.
- 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.
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
- 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