General Physics Lab: Force, Mass and Acceleration

Equipment and setup

• The experiment has two parts: (1) given a constant mass of the system, measure acceleration of the system as a function of the applied net force. (2) measure the acceleration of the glider as a function of the mass of the system with constant net force.
• Set the power of the air blower to maximum because this helps to minimize the friction (see Figure 2).
• All experiments use a photogate attached to the LabPro computer interface (Figure 1). As the picket fence passes through the photogate, the LabPro sends data to the computer and the picket fence's time, position and velocity are displayed (Figure 3).
• The data can then be stored in an Excel spreadsheet and graphed.
• In part I of the experiment, transfer the masses from the hanger to the glider (see Figure 5) so the net force changes but the total mass of the system remains the same.
• In part II, keep the masses on the hanger unchanged (15 grams or 75 grams), add extra masses to the glider when necessary (see Figure 6).
[Click on images to enlarge.]
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TA Notes
• Perform the experiment ahead of time!
• Don't allow the gliders to crash in to the air track stops.
• Please make sure that students place the glider on the air track only after the air blower has been turned on.
• Adjust the height of the photogate so the picket fence passes easily though it.
• Catch the mass hanger and masses when it dropped; do not allow them to crash to the floor.
• Adjust the position of the pulley so the string can be level with the air track (See Figure 4. The lower positons makes the string level might also bring some friction. In the higher position, friction between the string and the end of the air track).
• In part I of the experiment, transfer the masses from the hanger to the glider (see Figure 5) so the net force changes but the total mass of the system remains the same.
• In part II, keep the masses on the hanger unchanged (15 grams or 75 grams), add extra masses to the glider when necessary (see Figure 6).
• TA should collect the masses after each experiment and pass them out at the beginning of next class.

Data, Results and Graphs

Enter TA password to view sample data and results of this experiment:

Lab Manual

The Lab Manual for this experiment does not exist on-line.

CUPOL Experiments

Take a look at these CUPOL experiments for an on-line laboratory experience:

If you have a question or comment, send an e-mail to Lab Coordiantor: Jerry Hester