spring with weight.pngWe see springs everywhere and are pretty familiar with how the work. We find springs in our ball-point pens, in our old wind-up watches, in computer mice and electric switches, in car and truck suspensions and bumper cars. All springs work on the same principle. A spring can be stretched or compressed when a force is exerted on it. The amount it stretches or compresses is proportional to the force. We know that some springs take more force than others to stretch or compress them by the same amount. This is the "stiffness" of the spring and is related to something called the "spring constant." In the next activity you will get a chance to work with springs and hanging weights, and investigate the connection between forces and the stiffness of springs (the spring constant). This is the basis of Hooke's law.

Experiments with springs. You will be performing several experiments with actual springs and masses and with the simulation below.

1. Experiments with real springs to learn about Hooke's law, spring constants and elastic potential energy.
2. Experiments with multiple springs. How do springs behave in series and parallel?

Hooke's law


Some Hooke's law problems for homework.

3. Experiments with the PhET simulation. Use Hooke's law to find unknown values of m, k and g.




MIT OpenCourseWare
If you've ever wondered about what a physics class at MIT might look like, take a look here, where Professor Walter Lewin discusses Hooke's law and simple harmonic motion using springs and pendulums.