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Inquiry: Springs

Purpose: To examine Simple Harmonic Motion and Conservation of Energy of Springs.


  1. In the Intro section of the program, use Spring 1 and the known masses to record some data and then graph the data in Google Sheets so that the slope of the best fit line will give you the spring constant [k] in N/m.

  2. Use Spring 1 and its calculated k value to determine the three unknown masses in grams.

  3. Use Spring 1, its calculated k value and the 100 g mass to determine the gravity on Jupiter, the moon and Planet X.

  4. Now click the Lab section of the program. Use the given spring and slide friction (damping) to none. Make a 250 gram mass on the uncompressed spring and drop it. Measure the distance from the starting line to the line of lowest descent using the moveable line and ruler. (Use the top of the mass as the measuring point.) Calculate the amount of Total Energy available at the beginning.

  5. Knowing that GPE at the beginning should equal EPE at the bottom, calculate the value for the elasticity constant (k) of the spring.

  6. Knowing that TE = GPE + EPE + KE make a data table of Displacement, Height, GPE, EPE, KE and Velocity. We will fill out this table for 10 equal increments during the fall. (Take the total height and divide by 10 to get the increment) You can calculate GPE and EPE but the KE will be whatever is left over.

  7. Where is the KE at a maximum and what is the velocity at this point?

  8. Click on the show energy graph. Examine this graph with and without friction. What is the difference?

Inquiry Questions:

  • Print your spreadsheet and insert NEATLY into your notebook.

  • How much energy is used when 10.0 Newtons of force stretches a spring 20.0 cm?