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Understanding Centripetal Force

Submitted by PocketLab on Fri, 06/02/2017 - 18:46


An object experiencing a constant net force will experience a constant acceleration. Acceleration is defined as either a change in speed or a change in direction. When an object moves along a curved path it may maintain its speed, however it will be constantly changing its direction of movement. This type of acceleration along a curved path is called centripetal acceleration and is the result of a centripetal force, a force that is directed inward, toward the center of the curvature of the path. Examine the figure below.


In this experiment, students will:
1. Explore how changing m2 will affect the PocketLab’s angular velocity and tangential velocity.
2. Explore how changing the radius will affect the angular velocity and tangential velocity.
3. Determine how these variables will also affect the centripetal acceleration of the PocketLab and the centripetal force acting on the PocketLab.

Download PDF for complete lab activity 

Centripetal force diagram
Grade Level