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written by Tom Henderson
This interactive problem set is designed to help students recognize forces that are exerted in 11 common physical situations. For each situation, the student will decide which forces are present (P) or absent (A), then use a pull-down menu to view correct answers. This resource accompanies the four-part Physics Classroom tutorial, "Force and Its Representations" (see Related Materials for a link to the full tutorial.)

This self-assessment is part of The Physics Classroom tutorial collection.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Newton's Second Law
= Interacting Objects
Education Foundations
- Assessment
= Self Assessment
- High School
- Middle School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Problem/Problem Set
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- Activity
- Assessment
- New teachers
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© 2009 Tom Henderson
force, force pairs, frictional force, gravitational force, normal force, spring force, tension force
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created September 27, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
March 17, 2014 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
November 18, 2010

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
  • 9-12: 4F/H7. In most familiar situations, frictional forces complicate the description of motion, although the basic principles still apply.
4G. Forces of Nature
  • 6-8: 4G/M1. Every object exerts gravitational force on every other object. The force depends on how much mass the objects have and on how far apart they are. The force is hard to detect unless at least one of the objects has a lot of mass.

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Forces and Motion (PS2.A)
  • The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (6-8)
  • Newton's second law accurately predicts changes in the motion of macroscopic objects. (9-12)

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Dynamics: Forces and Motion
Unit Title: Newton's Second Law & Net Force

It can be difficult for beginners to recognize different force interactions, especially since these concepts sometimes run counter to the student's intuition. This interactive assessment lets them practice in a self-directed environment. They view 11 common physical situations, then decide which forces are present. Afterward, they use a pull-down menu to view correct answers -- all accompanied by explanations.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
T. Henderson, (2009), WWW Document, (http://www.physicsclassroom.com/morehelp/recforce/recforce.cfm).
T. Henderson, Physics Classroom: Recognizing Forces (2009), <http://www.physicsclassroom.com/morehelp/recforce/recforce.cfm>.
APA Format
Henderson, T. (2010, November 18). Physics Classroom: Recognizing Forces. Retrieved July 28, 2014, from http://www.physicsclassroom.com/morehelp/recforce/recforce.cfm
Chicago Format
Henderson, Tom. Physics Classroom: Recognizing Forces. November 18, 2010. http://www.physicsclassroom.com/morehelp/recforce/recforce.cfm (accessed 28 July 2014).
MLA Format
Henderson, Tom. Physics Classroom: Recognizing Forces. 2009. 18 Nov. 2010. 28 July 2014 <http://www.physicsclassroom.com/morehelp/recforce/recforce.cfm>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Tom Henderson", Title = {Physics Classroom: Recognizing Forces}, Volume = {2014}, Number = {28 July 2014}, Month = {November 18, 2010}, Year = {2009} }
Refer Export Format

%A Tom Henderson
%T Physics Classroom: Recognizing Forces
%D November 18, 2010
%U http://www.physicsclassroom.com/morehelp/recforce/recforce.cfm
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%A Henderson, Tom
%D November 18, 2010
%T Physics Classroom: Recognizing Forces
%V 2014
%N 28 July 2014
%8 November 18, 2010
%9 text/html
%U http://www.physicsclassroom.com/morehelp/recforce/recforce.cfm

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Physics Classroom: Recognizing Forces:

Supplements Physics Classroom: Force and Its Representation

A link to the four-part tutorial by the same author on the topic of forces.

relation by Caroline Hall

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