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Forces in an Elevator

OB1ECTIVES:

O Examine Iorces that act on objects that move vertically

O iIIerentiate between actual weight and apparent weight

O $hare and compare data oI the acceleration oI elevators

When a person that stands on a weighing/ bathroom scale, the reading on the scale is the

Normal Force that the scale exerts back towards the person to support the person`s weight. In

some cases like on an elevator, the person experiences acceleration. This would change the

normal Iorce between the person and the scale.

Weighing / bathroom scale measures the apparent weight thus it is the scale reading. $cales

measure the downward Iorces. $ince not only the acceleration due to gravity is involved in an

elevator or in other places, apparent weight changes but weight is still the same.

In an elevator, when it is accelerating upward, a

y

is positive and the apparent weight is

greater than the passenger weight. When the elevator is accelerating downward, a

y

is negative

and the apparent weight is less than the weight.

POTESIS: The weight measured in the bathroom scale varies depending upon the

downward Iorce acting on it.

METODOLOG

Materials to be used in this experiment are: the elevator, a bathroom scale, spring scale

and a block oI wood.

PROCEDURES:

Moving downward

with

decreasing speed

Sample Free Body Diagram of

an elevator moving downward

T

wmg

y

x

a

y

First, attach the block oI wood to the hook on the spring scale. Record the Iorce oI the

mass. AIter recording the Iorce, do the Iollowing conditions: (1) accelerate the block oI wood

upward, (2) moving upward with constant velocity, and (3) decelerate the wood. Record the

greatest amount oI Iorce in the Iirst condition, amount oI Iorce in the second condition, and the

lowest scale reading Ior the third condition.

In the second experiment, measure a person`s weight on a bathroom scale. Go to the

elevator and place the scale. $tep on the scale and record the mass on rest. $elect the highest

Iloor that the elevator goes up to. Once the elevator starts, during its upward acceleration, record

the highest reading on the scale. When the velocity oI the elevator becomes constant, record the

reading on the scale. As the elevator starts to decelerate, watch Ior the lowest reading on the

scale and record.

EXPERIMENTAL SETUP

DATA AND RESULTS

Force (N)(wood on spring scale) 1.7N

ighest Reading (N)(1

st

Condition) 1.82N

Reading at Constant Velocity (N)(2

nd

Condition) 1.7N

Lowest Reading (N)(3

rd

Condition) 1.57N

Person`s Weight (kg) 69 kg (152lbm)

ighest Reading (lbf)(In the elevator) 161 lbf

Reading at Constant Velocity (lbf)(In the elevator) 152 lbf

Lowest Reading (lbf)(In the elevator) 141 lbf

EQUATIONS AND COMPUTATION

INTERPRETATION

The apparent weight oI an object or a person changes under some speciIic conditions.

The apparent weight increases when the object is accelerating. The apparent weight decreases

when an object is decelerating. In cases that the velocity is constant, the apparent weight would

be constant.

SUMMAR

The weight oI an object is merely the mass oI an object multiplied by the acceleration due

to gravity. The weight oI an object does not change unless the acceleration due to gravity is

changed since the mass is constant. The apparent weight, on the other hand, is the reading on a

scale when not only the acceleration due to gravity inIluences the object. A spring scale and

bathroom scale can measure the apparent weight since it both measures the downward Iorce

exerted on an object.

When the object is accelerating upward, the apparent weight is greater than the actual

weight. When the object is decelerating, the apparent weight is less than the actual weight. In this

experiment, the outside Iorce (acceleration oI the object) aIIects the acceleration due to gravity.

VERIFICATION OF POTESIS

In an elevator, not only the acceleration due to gravity aIIects the weight but also the

acceleration oI the elevator. The change in the reading would be called the apparent weight. The

apparent weight is measured by a bathroom scale (since it measures the downward Iorce). II the

elevator is accelerating upward, the apparent weight is higher than the actual weight. II the

elevator is decelerating, the apparent weight is lesser than the actual weight.

SOURCES OF ERROR

1. There are other people using the elevator.(sometime people hit the bathroom scale)

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

1. Why did the mass appear to gain weight when being accelerated upward? Provide a

mathematical equation to summarize this concept.

2. Why did the mass appear to lose weight when being decelerated at the end oI its

movement? Provide a mathematical equation to summarize this concept.

3. Convert all oI the reading to Newtons (1N0.225lbI)

4. Calculate the acceleration oI the elevator at the beginning oI your elevator trip using the

equation F

scale

m(ag)

5. What is the deceleration oI the elevator at the end oI the trip?

6. What one- dimensional Iorces act on an object that is moving vertical direction in relation

to the ground?

7. How can you develop an experiment to Iind the acceleration oI an amusement park ride

that either drops rapidly or climbs rapidly?

8. How can a bathroom scale measure both pounds mass (lbm) and pounds Iorce (lbI) at the

same time?

9. Forces on pilots in high-perIormance jet airplanes are measured in gs or g-Iorce. What

does it mean iI a pilot is pulling 6gs in a power climb?

REFERENCES

BOOKS:

&niversity Physics. Hugh . Young, et. Al. Pearson. 2009

Conceptual Physics. Paul G. Hewitt. Pearson Prentice Hall. 2004