There are several aspects of the half-Atwood experiment that can expose errors in student application of physics concepts. We will discuss these issues and identify several approaches to providing student investigations to help them build confidence and clarity with this system.

Some topics include:

  1. What is the system?
  2. What mass is accelerating: the cart, or the hanging mass, both?
  3. Is the tension in the string equal to the force of gravity on the hanging mass?

Share your own approaches to helping students grapple with these concepts.

Experiment: Atwood’s Machine