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In the Newton’s Second Law Inquiry Lab Kit for AP® Physics 1, predict the effects of forces on the motion of objects and investigate Newton’s second law, which describes this relationship between force and acceleration.

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AP Physics 1, Big Ideas 2 & 3, Investigation 3

Newton’s laws of motion are foundational in classical mechanics and allow students to predict the effects of forces on the motion of objects. Newton’s second law quantitatively describes the relationship between the net force on an object and its acceleration.

The investigation begins with an introductory activity in which students are presented with a modified Atwood’s machine consisting of a Hall’s carriage connected to a hanging mass. As students make observations, ask questions, explain and predict, they identify the variables that affect the acceleration of the system. Once the introductory activity is completed, students design and carry out experiments to determine the acceleration of the system by first manipulating the net force on the system and then by manipulating the total mass of the system. An analysis of the results will lead to a deeper understanding of the relationships among the net force exerted on an object, its inertial mass and its acceleration.

Complete for 24 students working in groups of three. Timers are required and available separately. All materials are reusable.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking
Constructing explanations and designing solutions

Disciplinary Core Ideas

HS-PS2.A: Forces and Motion
HS-ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems

Crosscutting Concepts

Patterns
Cause and effect
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Systems and system models

Performance Expectations

HS-PS2-1. Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration.
HS-ETS1-4. Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between systems relevant to the problem.