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?

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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