Newton's Second Law: Constant Force Applied to a Skateboarder
In this physics lab, students investigate the motion of different skateboarders pulled with various values of constant force. Using skateboarders of different masses and a variety of constant force values, students produce distance vs. time motion graphs for a number of skateboarding trials. Students may develop their own methods for setting up the lab and recording the necessary data. Following data collection, students analyze the data using Newton's second law and discuss differences between trials, the effects of friction, and possible sources of error in the experiment.
This activity is designed for students to analyze their data and draw conclusions about relationships between force, mass, motion, and friction.
Students will discover that bodies acted on by a constant force tend to accelerate.
Students will qualitatively discover and describe Newton's 2nd Law of motion.
Context for Use
Resource Type: Activities:Lab Activity
Grade Level: High School (9-12)
Description and Teaching Materials
Teaching Notes and Tips
- Volunteer to ride the skateboard in one of the trials.
- Some students will want to do tricks and show off on the skateboard, slowing things down and possibly causing damage to the room. You may want to have these students show off in a controlled way for the whole class at the beginning or end of the activity just to get it out of the way.
- This activity can also be done (more precisely) with Vernier motion detectors, if you have enough of them.
- This activity could also be done as a demo to save time.
- Put away all fragile items before doing this activity.
- I have done this with 9th graders, conceptual 11/12th graders, and advanced 11/12th graders. They all enjoyed it.
Students can also be graded based on their completed lab sheet, graphs, and analysis.
I.B.1 Design experiment and analyze data
I.B.3 Apply model to data and support conclusions
I.B.4 Identify sources of error
I.D.1. Use Newton's Laws of motion
I.D.2. Describe effects of friction
I.E.2. Identify dominant forces in a system