Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite

Edward F. Redish

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SHO variables

A small cart with low friction wheels is attached to a sturdy wall with a high quality spring that has negligible internal damping. Use a coordinate system where the cart is at equilibrium when the cartís indicator points to 0. The cart at rest is shown in the figure at the right. The cart has a mass of 0.750 kg and the spring constant is 12 N/m.

The cart is pulled to the right by 0.1 m and released at time t = 0. It then oscillates back and forth. As the cart oscillates, various variables associated with the cartís motion change. For each variable, put the letter of the graph that could represent the time dependence of that variable if the vertical axis were given the right units. (Note that the time units are given and 4 s are shown in each graph.)

You may use a graph more than once and if there is no graph that correctly describes the variable, put N.

1.Position of the cart.
2. Velocity of the cart.
3. Acceleration of the cart.
4. Net force on the cart.
5. Force the spring exerts on the cart.


Page last modified February 28, 2010: O48