Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Centripetal Acceleration

Figure from experiment 12B from Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics


The typical response when one hears the word acceleration is to think of an object changing its speed. You have also learned that velocity has both magnitude and direction. So, an object traveling at constant speed in a circular path is undergoing an acceleration. In this experiment you will develop an expression for this type of acceleration.


In this experiment, you will

  • Analyze velocity vectors of an object undergoing uniform circular motion to determine the direction of the acceleration vector at any given moment.
  • Collect force, velocity, and radius data for a mass swinging as a pendulum.
  • Analyze the force vs. velocity and force vs. radius graphs.
  • Determine the relationship between force, mass, velocity, and radius when the force is perpendicular to the velocity.
  • Use this relationship and Newton’s second law to determine an expression for centripetal 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?

Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Motion on an Incline
2Error Analysis
3Newton's First Law
4Newton's Second Law
5Newton's Third Law
6Projectile Motion
7Energy Storage and Transfer: Elastic Energy
8Energy Storage and Transfer: Kinetic Energy
9Energy Storage and Transfer: Gravitational Energy
10AImpulse and Momentum (Motion Detector)
10BImpulse and Momentum (Photogate)
11AMomentum and Collisions (Motion Detectors)
11BMomentum and Collisions (Photogates)
12ACentripetal Acceleration
12BCentripetal Acceleration
13Rotational Dynamics
14Conservation of Angular Momentum
15Simple Harmonic Motion: Mathematical Model
16Simple Harmonic Motion: Kinematics and Dynamics
17Pendulum Periods
18Physical Pendulum
19Center of Mass

Experiment 12B from Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics Lab Book

<i>Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics</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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