Tag Archive | Hooke’s Law

Day 29: Spring Lab Debrief


College-Prep Physics: Yesterday, students designed their own experiments to determine the relationship between the stretch of a spring and the force applied to the spring. Today we shared out our results.

This year, I chose to use 2 different springs: one with a pre-load (red) and one without (green). My goal is to drive home that not all trends will go through the origin. Some groups still tried to fit a trend through the origin, though. Looking back, if I had been monitoring groups better, I would have asked those groups to go back and take more data for small stretches….hopefully continuing the linear trend down to the y-intercept.


NGSS Science and Engineering Practice #4: Analyzing and Interpreting Data
NGSS Science and Engineering Practice #5. Using Mathematics

Day 12: Spring Lab

IMG_20130924_144758791 (1)

College-Prep Physics: We’ve been discussing the ball-and-spring model for solids, so now it’s time to investigate spring behavior in more detail. What is the relationship between the force applied to a spring and the amount the spring stretches? We’re keeping it simple: using spring scales to measure force and making stretch the independent variable. Each lab group takes data for two different springs.

(Concept check: Which pulls harder — the spring on the scale or the scale on the spring? What is the scale actually measuring?)

Lab technique/concepts to focus on:

  • graphing by hand
  • zeroing the spring scale while it’s horizontal, not vertical
  • measuring stretch (subtraction method vs. direct method)
  • 5 to 10 levels of the independent variable
  • Multiple trials for each level of the independent variable.
  • Wide range of values for the levels of the independent variables.
    • HOW TO SPACE THEM OUT? Limiting factors:
      • Maximum safe stretch = limitation of apparatus, can’t overextend.  So if your spring can safely stretch to 50 cm, you maximum level will be 50 cm. Space your lower levels accordingly.
      • Maximum force reading = limitation of instrument, can’t go beyond 5 N. Your spring may safely stretch out to 50 cm, but perhaps doing so means the force is larger than 5 N. So your maximum level will be the stretch at 5 N. Space your lower levels accordingly.