In last week’s activity, we calculated the motion of objects by studying the forces on them. Using Newton’s Second Law of Motion, we were able to relate the forces on an object to the acceleration it experienced. The presence of constant forces led to constant accelerations, which corresponded to linearly-increasing velocities with respect to time. Comparisons made between the velocities we measured and those calculated from a study of the forces on the objects allowed us to validate Newton’s equation F = ma. In this week’s activity, we are going to investigate almost the same experimental setup as last week, but from a different perspective. This time, we will relate the position and velocities of objects to their energies and not to the forces on them. In the absence of external forces to the system, no net work will be done on the objects, which means that the total energy of the system will remain a constant. Using this fact, we will once again find a mathematical relationship between the velocity and time, which will allow for comparisons between theory and experiment.
"First Law of Thermodynamics" (2017). Activities. 53.