Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Circular Motion


The goal of this activity is for students to determine the relationship between the (angular or linear) velocity, radius, and mass on the centripetal force or acceleration necessary to keep an object moving in a circular path.

In the Preliminary Observations, students will observe an object that is swung on a string in a circular path. Students then explore force (or acceleration) and circular motion using a method of their choosing, though instructors may provide a limited number of choices.

During the subsequent inquiry process, students may use a variety of tools ranging from a mass on a string to the Centripetal Force Apparatus. This activity can also be done virtually using Pivot Interactives.

Students should finish the activity having evaluated data graphically and developed an expression relating a center-pointed (centripetal) net force to the properties of circular motion.

Learning Outcomes

  • Design and perform an investigation.
  • Draw a conclusion from evidence.
  • Understand that the centripetal force acting on (or the centripetal acceleration of) an object moving in a circular pattern is governed by one of two relationships

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS2.A Forces and Motion
  • PS2.B Types of Interactions

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Patterns
  • Cause and Effect
  • Systems and System Models

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Planning and carrying out investigations
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Using mathematics and computational thinking
  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions
  • Science models, laws, mechanisms, and theories explain natural phenomena

Physics Explorations and Projects

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Constant Motion and Changing Motion
2Balanced Forces and Unbalanced Forces
3Gravitation on Earth
4Newton’s Second Law
5Projectile Challenge
6Impulse and Momentum
7Equilibrium of Forces
8Circular Motion
9Conservation of Momentum
10Egg Protection Challenge
11Springs Making Things Move
12Kinetic Energy and Mass
13Work and Kinetic Energy
14Work Done by Gravity
15Energy in Collisions
16Rube Goldberg Machine
17Charge and Charge Models
18Coulomb's Law
19Measuring Electric Current
20Conservation of Charge
21Voltage in a Circuit
22Battery Challenge
23Magnetic Field of a Current
24Current from a Changing Field
25Generating Electricity
27Wave Speed on a String
28Speed of Sound
29Interference and Diffraction
30Sound and Loudness
31Wave Communication Challenge
32Energy Storage in Capacitors
34Heat as Energy Transfer
35Solar Cells
36Rube Goldberg Machine Revisited

Experiment 8 from Physics Explorations and Projects Lab Book

<i>Physics Explorations and Projects</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

Buy the Book

Dev Reference: VST0754

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