29 November Science 7 Energy–playground swings–concept of work

Mindful moment.

Review last class in your DSN and on the blog.

Read today’s blog VERY CAREFULLY! Be sure to have at least one question to ask.

Prepare DSN entry for today–in Energy folder.


  • * * * *

We will collect your summative projects. You should have paper copies AND electronic copies should be uploaded, labeled clearly, and shared properly in your DSN in the Motion folder.

  1. Poster with no words and no numerals.
  2. Description of your investigation and explanation of your poster.
  3. Reflection.

While you are waiting to be called to submit your project, work on the following. You may use headphones to view the videos.  You may get the headphones during the time the projects are being collected–when it is not your turn. Write your responses to the questions, your notes on the links, and your own questions in your DSN entry for today.

  • * * * * *

A brief investigation of the motion (including our new concept of Energy) of a familiar device–a playground swing. If you need an air pollution mask to go outside, please get it during the time projects are being collected.

(Remember your thinking about the ramp-walking elephant, the dropping of different masses of clay, the comeback can.)

What do you know about swinging on playground swings? Describe your experience. What affects what happens when you swing? How?

Swing = one full cycle back and forth

Frequency = how many swings occur in a given amount of time

What happens during one swing–direction? speed? weight? other?

What are the factors that affect how a swing operates? What is the basis for the effect?


In what way is the comeback car like a swing?

Oscillators. See this video clip: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47LBKOaO0JU>

Watch the following video as homework. If you do not want to watch it in one sitting, watch it in segments. Use the captions. Start and stop to make sure you understand each example. List your questions about ideas, examples, vocabulary.

Change (from the Ring of Truth–An Inquiry into How We Know What We Know) <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nk8CQNThbc0>

Bill Nye the Science Guy on Energy <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qmSzMwTkpk>

Some ideas about Energy. Notice those expressed in common terms (from <https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Laws_of_thermodynamics>):

There are three ‘Laws’ of thermodynamics (“laws” in the sense that they describe how physical systems “must” behave), and also a “zeroth” law, which isn’t really a law so much as a definition of what is meant by “temperature”.

  • Zeroth law of thermodynamics: “When two systems are in thermal equilibrium with a reservoir, they are in thermal equilibrium with each other.”
  • First law of thermodynamics: “The total energy of the Universe is constant.”
  • Second law of thermodynamics: “The entropy of an isolated system does not decrease.”
  • Third law of thermodynamics: “As the temperature of a perfect crystal approaches zero, its entropy approaches a constant.”[1]

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Laws may be humorously summarized in non-scientific form as:

  1. You can’t get something for nothing.
  2. You can’t even break even unless you cool the temperature to absolute zero.
  3. It’s impossible to actually reach absolute zero.

Or, if you are a poker player:

  1. You can’t win.
  2. You can’t break even.
  3. You can’t get out of the game.
  • * * * *

How would you explain the idea of Energy? How do you think your idea might compare to the scientific idea? How many forms of energy can you think of? What do you suspect the concept of “work” is? What might be the relationship between work and energy?

  • * * * *

In order to build our ideas about energy, we will examine how forces are applied in pulley systems and how much work goes in and how much comes out. (Energy is the capacity to do work.)

Recall the different relationships between the fundamental quantities: mass, space (distance), time

  • Velocity (speed with direction) = distance/time (Meters/Second)
  • Acceleration = Velocity/time (Meters / Second²)
  • Force = Mass x Acceleration (Kilogram x Meters / Second²) (Newtons)
  • Momentum = Mass x Velocity (Kilogram x Meters / Second)
  • Pressure = Force / Area (Newton / Meter²) (Pascal) (Pounds per square inch-psi; and Bar are units of pressure that are not part of the scientific metric unit system)
  • Work = Force x Distance (Energy is the capacity to do work). (Joules)
  • Power = Work/Time (Force x Distance / Time) (Joules/Second or Watts)

Pulleys are used to make work seem easier.  There are two ways in which a pulley can make work easier.

  1. Pulleys can change the direction of the force
  2. Pulleys can multiply the force applied by spreading it over a longer distance.

There are three main types of pulleys: single – fixed pulley,  single moveable pulley, and   block and tackle – at least one fixed pulley and one moveable pulley in a system.

There are many online references for pulleys. Here is one: http://www.ropebook.com/information/pulley-systems

Build and operate the three systems (see photos). Examine and record the work input and work output of each pulley system and compare them to one another.

PROCEDURE:  Single fixed pulley (see photos)

  1. You will first need to set up a single fixed pulley system as directed by your teacher.
  2. Determine the weight of the object being lifted by attaching it to a Newton spring scale and recording this value in row B.
  3. Attach the weight to one end of a string and run it up and around a single fixed pulley attached to the top bar. Attach the short end of the string to spring scale.
  4. Using a meter stick, note the height at which the spring scale is attached to the string.  Pull on the scale so that it moves at a constant speed and record the reading on the scale in row E.
  5. Move the weight being lifted up .1m (10 cm) from the tabletop to the bottom of the object.  Record this in row C.
  6.  Determine the distance that the scale was moved by subtracting the final reading from the initial reading on the meter stick.  Record this value in row F.
  7. Calculate out the remaining rows using the formulas provided and your data.

Single moveable pulley (see photos)

  1. Tie one end of a string to the top bar.  Run the string through a pulley and attach the other end to a spring scale.
  2. Connect the pulley to the object being lifted and repeat steps 4-8 as you did for the single fixed pulley and record your data in the data table

Block and tackle pulley system (see photos)

  1. Tie a pulley to the top bar.  Loop a string through this pulley.  Tie one end of the string to the top of a second pulley and take the other end and loop it around the second pulley and then tie it to the spring scale.  Connect the weight to the second pulley
  2. Repeat steps 4-8 as you did for the single fixed pulley and record your data in the  data table

Complete the following data table:


Single fixed pulley Single moveable pulley Block and tackle


Resistance force-Weight of object being lifted(N)


Resistance distance -Height that the object is lifted(m)

.1 (10cm)

.1 (10cm)

.1 (10cm)


Work output (J)              = force x distance(B x C)


Effort force (N) (Reading from spring scale as string is pulled)


Effort Distance    How far scale is moved (m)


Work input (J)    = force x distance (E x F)


Mechanical advantage (B/E)


Efficiency = work output/work input(D/G) x 100

1.     Which pulley system required the greatest effort force?  Explain why.

2.     Which type of pulley had the greatest mechanical advantage?  Explain why this is.

(HINT:  Think of which system you had to pull the most string through)

3.     What would be an easier way to determine the mechanical advantage of a pulley system?

(HINT:  Think of how many strings are holding up the weight)

4.     Which pulley system was the most efficient?   Is this what you expected?

5.     Explain the best way that a mechanic could pull out a large truck engine by himself using the least possible amount of force.

6.     Try another system with more than 3 pulleys. Record your ideas and your results.

7.     In what sense does the pulley make the work easier?

8.     Design a simple machine (which works) where the input work is less than the output work. If this is not possible, explain why you think so.

A single pulley. Input force is directed down, weight moves up.

Single moveable pulley. Lifting force moves weight upward.

Block and tackle. One moveable pulley and one fixed pulley.  Downward input force lifts weight upward.

Some different ways to think about energy and energy transformations; the development of ideas about energy:






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