Reflection: Complex Tasks Pushing the Pathfinder - Section 2: Challenge Delivered


The solution to the problem of finding the mass of my car:

Place the scale on the back of the SUV and push the SUV while it is in neutral. You can read the mass value on the scale and convert that to a force. Since net F=ma, you can calculate the resulting acceleration using time and distance with the equation a = 2x/t^2.

What many groups don't take into account are the frictional forces within the bearings of the wheels. This frictional force can be found by with a separate trial. Students who recognize the effects of friction push the SUV at a constant velocity. The value on the scale IS the frictional force. They then subtract the frictional force from the push force when the vehicle accelerates.

  Solution to finding the mass
  Complex Tasks: Solution to finding the mass
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Pushing the Pathfinder

Unit 1: Forces in One Dimension
Lesson 9 of 11

Objective: Students use a bathroom scale and F=ma to determine the mass of my SUV.

Big Idea: The mass of an object can be determined by applying a net force to it and measuring its acceleration.

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