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Hooke's Law EX-5504

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Hooke's Law
Equipment:
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1

INCLUDED:
PAScar Dynamics System
Motion Sensor
Dynamics Track Spring Set
Force Sensor
Discover Collision Bracket
Spring Cart Launcher
Elastic Bumper
Physics String
NOT INCLUDED, BUT REQUIRED:
850 Computer Interface
PASCO Capstone

ME-6955
PS-2103A
ME-8999
PS-2104
ME-8973
ME-6843
ME-8998
SE-8050
UI-5000
UI-5400

Introduction:
The purpose of the A portion of this experiment is to find the spring constant for two springs
under tension and to verify that the energy stored in a spring is in agreement with what
Hookes Law predicts. The force applied to the spring is measured using a Force Sensor. The
subsequent extension or compression is measured with a Motion Sensor. An analysis of the
data produces the spring constant. The PasCar is then released from various positions and its
final kinetic energy is measured and compared to the predicted energy in the spring at the
initial position.
The second (B) portion of this experiment examines a spring (under compression) that does not
obey Hookes Law. This allows the student to recognize that Hookes Law is an approximation
to reality. Conservation of energy is also examined for this more complex case.

Written by Chuck Hunt

Hooke's Law EX-5504

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Theory A:
When force is applied to a spring, the resulting extension or compression of
the spring maintains a linear relationship with the applied force. This
relationship manifests itself in Hookes Law:
F = -kx

Eq. (1)

where F is the applied force, x is the extension or compression of the


spring measured from its unstretched length and k is the spring constant.
The signs are chosen so that when the spring is stretched the force is
negative since the Force Sensor records a negative force when we pull on
it. (Note: Hookes Law is generally written in terms of the force the spring
applies on its surroundings instead of the force applied to the spring.) We
will actually measure position of a PasCar attached to the spring rather
than x. Equation 1 may be rewritten:
F = +k(x-x0) = kx - kx0 = kx - b

Eq. (2)

where x is the position of the PasCar, x0 is its position when the spring first
begins to stretch (or compress), and b = kx0. The sign changes in Equation
2 since when the spring stretches, the distance to the Motion Sensor
decreases. Signs here are confusing. Basically, k must be positive. This
has the form of a straight line when F is graphed versus x with k being the
slope of the line and b being the intercept (which has no physical
significance).
The energy stored in a spring is
Usp = kx2

Eq. (3)

If the PasCar is released from position x = x1, at the time the car reaches x0,
all of the spring energy has been converted to kinetic energy of the car and
K = mv2 = Usp = kx2 = k(x1-x0)2

Written by Chuck Hunt

Eq. (4)

Hooke's Law EX-5504

Figure 1: Stretch Setup

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Figure 2: Initial String Close-up

Setup A: Stretching the Spring


1. Level the track. Use a spirit level if available or just use the motion of
the PasCar on the track. If a spirit level is available, check level along
the track and perpendicular to it.
2. Attach the Force Sensor to the Discover Collision Bracket and attach the
bracket to the track as shown in Figure 1.
3. Attach the Elastic Bumper set to the track to protect the Force Sensor.
The elastic band should be in the highest of the three notches (to clear
the spring) and on the side toward the Force Sensor so the colliding
PasCar doesnt just push them loose.
4. Attach the Motion Sensor to the other end of the track. Tilt the sensor
down slightly.
5. Connect the Force Sensor and the Motion Sensor to the PASPORT inputs
on the 850 Universal Interface.
6. Choose one of the long weak springs from the Dynamics Track Spring
Set. Use a short piece of string to tie the spring to the lower hole on one
end of the PasCar as shown in Figure 1 so the car is about 15 cm from
the spring. Attach the spring to the hook on the Force Sensor with a
small loop of string. The Elastic Bumper set should be several
centimeters further from the Force Sensor than the end of the spring so
the spring doesnt get squashed by the car hitting the bumper, but the
car should be at least 10 cm from the bumper when the spring is not
stretched. See Figure 2.
7. Zero the Force Sensor by pressing the "Zero" button.

Written by Chuck Hunt

Hooke's Law EX-5504

Procedure A: Stretching the Spring

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(sensors at 100 Hz)

1. Start with the spring unstretched and slack in the string. Your hand should be on the end of
the cart away from the Motion Sensor (so the sensor will not measure the position of your
hand).
2. Click RECORD at the bottom left of the screen.
3. Push the cart until it is about 15 cm away from the Motion Sensor, then slowly back until it
is back where it started from. Push STOP. The data on the Hookes Law Graph should be
very linear and the force should be zero at the right side. (graph of F vs x)
4. Click open Data Summary at the left of the screen. Double click on this run (probably Run
#1) and re-label it Weak Spring. Note that you can delete bad runs by using the Delete
Last Run button at the bottom right of the screen, or by using the white triangle to the right
of the button to delete specific runs. Click Data Summary again to close it.
5. Push the car until the spring is stretched by about 15 cm.
6. Click RECORD. Hold the car still for a few seconds.
7. Release the car. Press STOP after the car hits the bumper. The spring may come
unhooked. If it does, try to prevent the car from striking the Motion Sensor.
8. Verify that you have good data for the speed of the car after the spring stops pulling on it
and its speed is constant.
a. Open the v Graph tab. (graph of v vs t)
b. Verify that the speed becomes constant before the car hits the bumper and the speed
rapidly becomes negative. If you dont see a flat plateau (like the region between 1.70 s
and 1.83 s in Figure 3) due to noise, delete the run and do it again. If noise is a
problem, make sure there are no objects near the track to reflect the signal. You may
need to change the tip angle on the Motion Sensor.
9. Click open Data Summary and label this run as 15 cm.
10. Repeat steps 5-9 for initial stretches of 30 cm and 45 cm. Label them 30 cm and 45
cm.
11. Replace the weak spring with on of the strong springs and repeat steps 1-4. Label the run
Stong Spring.

Figure 3: Constant Speed Plateau


Written by Chuck Hunt

Hooke's Law EX-5504

k Analysis A:

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(graph of F vs x)(table: k, k, x0, x0, x1 15, x1 30, x1 45)

1. Click on the black triangle by the Run Select icon on the graph toolbar and
select Weak Spring.
2. Click the Scale to Fit icon at the left of the toolbar.
3. Click on the Selection icon on the graph toolbar and when the selection box
appears, drag the box handles to highlight all the data except the region where
the force is zero because the spring is unstretched.
4. Click on the black triangle by the Curve Fit icon and select Linear.
5. From Equation 2 in Theory, the slope of the F vs x plot is the Spring Constant,
k. Enter the value for the slope and its uncertainty in the Spring Constant table
on the Weak Spring line for k and k.
6. We need to determine the exact position where the spring is first unstretched, x0.
Click on the Coordinates tool. Grab the coordinates crosshairs box that appears
and drag it until the vertical crosshair intersects the point where the best fit line
(Linear) that you added with the Curve Fit tool crosses the F = 0 horizontal line.
Read the value of x0 from the coordinates box and enter it in the first line of the
Spring Constant Table. Estimate the uncertainty in x0 by moving the vertical
crosshairs a little bit (use the spread of the data to estimate how much is
reasonable) left and right of the crossing point and see how much x changes in
the coordinates box. Enter the value as x0 in the Spring Constants table.
7. Right click in the Coordinates tool box and select Delete Tool. Click on the
black triangle by the Curve Fit icon and turn off Linear. Click anywhere in
the Selection box to highlight it and click the Remove Active Element icon.
8. Repeat steps 1-5 and 7 for Strong Spring.
9. We need the start position, x1, for each of the accelerated runs. Click the black
triangle by the Run Select icon and select 15 cm. Click the Scale to Fit icon.
10. If you dont see the coordinate crosshairs, click on the Coordinate tool icon.
Grab the coordinate crosshairs and move it so the vertical crosshairs is directly
above the start of the run (max force). It should be easy to see the start since
you held the cart there for several seconds and the force sensor varies a bit and
makes a short vertical line. Read the value of the start position and enter it in
the Spring Constants table in the first row in the x1 15 column. Right click on
the coordinate tool and delete it. Repeat for the 30 cm and 45 cm runs.

Written by Chuck Hunt

Hooke's Law EX-5504

Energy Analysis:

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(graph of v vs t)(table v 15, v 15, x1 15, v 30, v 30, x1 30, v 45, v 45, x1 45)

1. Click the black triangle next to the Run Select tool and select the 15 cm run. Click
anywhere on the graph.
2. Click the Scale to Fit button. Click the Selection icon and drag the handles on the
selection box to highlight the first peak. Click Scale to Fit again.
3. Drag the handles on the selection box to highlight the plateau region where the speed is
approximately constant.
4. Click the black triangle by the Statistics icon and select Mean and Standard Deviation.
Click the Statistics icon and the Mean and Standard Deviation should appear on the left
of the graph. Enter the values in the table below as v 15 and v 15.
5. Click in the selection box to highlight it and click on the Remove Active Element icon.
Click on the Statistics icon to turn it off. Repeat for the 30 cm and 45 cm runs.
6. Mass the PasCar and enter the value in the m column in kg.
7. Mass one of the springs (they are about the same) and enter the value in the m spring
column.

Written by Chuck Hunt

Hooke's Law EX-5504

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Conclusions A: stretched spring (table: k, K15, U15, K30, U30, K45, U45)
1. Did the springs obey Hookes Law? Explain fully on what your answer is based.
2. What was physically different about the spring with the larger value of spring constant,
k?
3. Was mechanical energy conserved? That is, did Equation 4 from Theory A make
correct predictions for the three accelerated runs. First, click open the calculator at the
left of the screen and verify that the kinetic energies (K15, K30, K45) are calculated
correctly in lines 1-3 and that the potential energies of the spring (U15, U30, U45) are
calculated correctly in lines 4-6. Then compare the corresponding values for the initial
energy of the spring to the final kinetic energy of the cart. To really make this
comparison, you must consider uncertainties. There is very little uncertainty in the
mass, so we may ignore it. The percent uncertainty in the kinetic energy is twice the
percent uncertainty in the speed since speed is squared:
K/K = 2v/v.
Examine the values in the Energy Data table on the v Graph page to estimate the
uncertainty in the kinetic energies. The uncertainty in the spring constant (k) is
probably much less than 1% (see Spring Constant table on k Analysis A page) and may
be ignored. Then we have:
U/U = 2(x)/x ~ 2x0/(x1-x0).
Examine the values in the Spring Constant table on k Analysis page to estimate the
uncertainty in the spring potential energies. Considering the uncertainties, do the
values for spring potential energy and kinetic energy agree?
4. Even if the values for K and U agree within the uncertainties, the values for K are
probably less than the corresponding values for U in most cases. Why should this be
true?

Written by Chuck Hunt

Hooke's Law EX-5504

Page 8 of 5

Theory B:

When one considers the complexity of the changes that go on at an atomic level when a
spring is stretched or compressed (atoms have to move with respect to adjacent atoms), it
should be somewhat surprising that as simple an expression as Hookes Law can describe
what happens.
Looked at another way, some energy has to be transferred to heating the spring. This
means that the force required to stretch or compress a spring (loading forces) must be
larger than the unloading forces since the energy we get out of a spring must be less than
the energy we put into the spring. For the springs in part A, the difference was too small
to notice.
In this portion of the experiment we will use the fact that the work done on the PasCar is
equal to the area under the force (applied to the PasCar) versus position curve. The work
done on the PasCar will be equal to the final kinetic energy of the PasCar.
K = (1/2)mv = Work = Area under curve Eq. (5)

Written by Chuck Hunt

Hooke's Law EX-5504

Figure 4: Compression-Equilibrium Run

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Figure 5: Compression-Accelerated Run

Setup B:
Equilibrium Run
1. Attach the Spring Cart Launcher to the PasCar as shown in Figure 4.
Use the medium spring with the blue end.
2. Place the Motion Sensor on the track so that the front edge is at the
50 cm mark on the track. Do not move it during the experiment,
including the accelerated run.
3. Attach the Elastic Bumper set to the track to protect the Motion
Sensor so the elastic band is at the 55 cm mark. The elastic band
should be in the lowest of the three notches (below the Motion Sensor
beam) and on the side toward the Motion Sensor so the colliding
PasCar doesnt just push them loose.
4. Attach one of the track Endstops so the side nearest the Motion
Sensor is at the 110 cm mark on the track.
5. Push the plastic rod on the Cart Launcher through the hole in the
Endstop and tie a small loop of string through the hole in the
Endstop. Attach the hook on the Force Sensor to the loop.
Compression-Accelerated Run

Written by Chuck Hunt

Hooke's Law EX-5504

Page 10 of 5

1. Do Not change the position of the Motion Sensor or the Endstop!


2. Remove the loop of string from the Cart Launcher rod, and set the
Force Sensor aside.
3. Locate the Cart Launcher pin and attach a string to it.
4. Attach the Discover Collision Bracket to the track as shown in Figure
5.
5. Put the Cart Launcher rod through the holes in the brackets and put
the pin through the hole in the end of the rod.
6. Adjust the position of the Discover Collision Bracket so the spring is
compressede by about 6 cm. The coils should not touch each other.
See Figure 5.

Written by Chuck Hunt

Hooke's Law EX-5504

Page 11 of 5

Procedure B1- Equilibrium Run:


1. Determine the position of the PasCar where the spring is compressed by about 7 cm.
2. Start with the spring completely uncompressed. Click RECORD.
3. Pull on the Force Sensor, slowing increasing the force until the PasCar is at the position
noted in step 1 above. Slowly decrease the force until the spring is uncompressed.
4. Repeat step 3 without stopping the recording.
5. Click STOP.
6. Click open Data Summary and re-label the run as Spring Curve. Click Data
Summary to close it.
7. Consider the Force vs Position graph and answer Questions 1&2 on the Conclusions B
page.
8. One way to explain the difference between the loading and unloading portions of the
Spring Curve is to assume there is friction in the system. To test this, click RECORD
with the spring completely uncompressed. Pull on the Force Sensor until the PasCar is
at the position from step 1 and hold it motionless for 15 seconds. Click STOP with the
PasCar still motionless. Release the tension on the cart slowly. Click open Data
Summary and label this run Loading. Answer Question 3 on the Conclusions B page.
9. Pull on the Force Sensor until the PasCar is at the position from step 1. Hold it
motionless for 15 seconds. Click RECORD. Slowly decrease the force you apply to
zero. Click STOP. Re-label this run as Unload 1.
10. Repeat step 9. Re-label it as Unload 2.

Procedure B2-Accelerated Run:


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Change to the Setup for the Accelerated Run.


Pin the Cart Launcher rod so the spring is compressed about 6 cm.
Click RECORD. Wait 1 second. Pull the pin.
After the cart strikes the Elastic Bumper, click STOP.
Verify that you have good data for the speed of the car after the spring stops pulling on
it and its speed is constant. If you dont see a flat plateau (like in Figure 3 under the
Procedure A tab) due to noise, delete the run and do it again. If noise is a problem,
make sure there are no objects near the track to reflect the signal. You may need to
change the tip angle on the Motion Sensor, but do not move it!
6. Click open Data Summary and re-label the run as Accel 1 .
7. Repeat and label this run as Accel 2.

Written by Chuck Hunt

Hooke's Law EX-5504

Page 12 of 5

k Analysis B:
1. On the Force vs Position curve above, click on the black triangle by the Run Select icon
and select the Unload 1 run. Click the Scale to Fit button.
2. Click the black triangle by the Curve Fit icon and choose Linear. Note the slope.
Click on the black triangle again and turn off Linear.
3. Repeat for the Unload 2 run.
4. Answer Questions 4 & 5 on the Conclusions B page.
5. On the PasCar Position graph click on the black triangle by the Run Select icon and
select the Accel 1 run. Click the Scale to Fit button.
6. Click the Selection icon and use the handles on the Selection box to select the region
before the PasCar started to move and the position was constant.
7. Click on the black triangle by the Statistics icon and select Mean. Click on the
Statistics icon and note the Mean value for the initial position. Click on the Statistics
icon again to close it. Click anywhere in the Selection box to highlight it. Click the
Remove Active Element icon.
8. Repeat steps 5-7 for the Accel 2 run.
9. Average the two values for the initial position.
10. On the Force vs Position graph, click the Selection icon and use the handles on the
Selection box to select the data (Unload 2 run) from the position where F becomes zero
to the position from step 9.
11. Click the Area tool to display the area under the curve in the Selection box. Enter the
area in Question 6 of Conclusions B. Ignore any minus sign.

Written by Chuck Hunt

Hooke's Law EX-5504

Energy Analysis B:

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(graph of v vs t)

Click the black triangle next to the Run Select tool and select the Accel 1 run. Click
anywhere on the graph.
2. Click the Scale to Fit button. Click the Selection icon and drag the handles on the
selection box to highlight the first peak. Click Scale to Fit again.
3. Drag the handles on the selection box to highlight the plateau region where the speed is
approximately constant.
4. Click the black triangle by the Statistics icon and select Mean. Click the Statistics icon
and the Mean should appear on the left of the graph. Note the value.
5. Click in the selection box to highlight it and click on the Remove Active Element icon.
Click on the Statistics icon to turn it off. Click the Scale to Fit icon. Repeat for the
Accel 2 run. Average the two values.
6. Mass the PasCar with the Spring Launcher attached. Calculate the kinetic energy of the
PasCar plus Launcher and enter it in Question 7 on the Conclusion B page.
1.

Written by Chuck Hunt

Hooke's Law EX-5504

Page 14 of 5

Conclusions B:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

Does the spring obey Hookes Law when it is compressed? Explain fully!
Does Hookes Law appear to hold for any portion of the curve?
Can you explain the behavior of the spring using friction? Explain fully!
Does the unloading spring obey Hookes Law?
What is the unloading spring constant?
What is the area under the Force vs Position curve?
What is the kinetic energy of the PasCar plus Launcher?
Do the area under the curve and the kinetic energy support Equation 5 from Theory B?
Try to explain any differences.
9. Why did we use the area under the unloading curve rather than that under the loading
curve?

Written by Chuck Hunt