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written by Scott Schneider
This Java Applet simulates the well-known "leaning ladder" physics problem. It consists of a ladder leaning against a wall and a person standing on the ladder (represented by a blue ball). The user can adjust mass of ladder, mass of person, distance person stands from base of ladder, coefficient of static friction underneath ladder, and the theta angle. Force vectors and values are shown for the lateral force and force of static friction on the base of the ladder.  The ladder will fall if the lateral is greater than the frictional force.

This is part of a larger collection of Physlet-based tutorials developed at Lawrence Technological University to support instruction of introductory physics.

Please note that this resource requires Java Applet Plug-in.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Applications of Newton's Laws
= Friction
- Statics of Rigid Bodies
= Equilibrium
= Resolution of Forces
= Static Torque
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- Educators
- application/java
- text/html
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Access Rights:
Free access
© 2002 Scott Schneider
equilibrium, forces, ladder, static friction, torque
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created March 23, 2011 by Kendall Hunnewell
Record Updated:
September 2, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
March 15, 2006
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 9-12: 4F/H1. The change in motion (direction or speed) of an object is proportional to the applied force and inversely proportional to the mass.
  • 9-12: 4F/H7. In most familiar situations, frictional forces complicate the description of motion, although the basic principles still apply.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
  • 6-8: 11B/M5. The usefulness of a model depends on how closely its behavior matches key aspects of what is being modeled. The only way to determine the usefulness of a model is to compare its behavior to the behavior of the real-world object, event, or process being modeled.
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Record Link
AIP Format
S. Schneider, (2002), WWW Document, (
S. Schneider, LTU Physlet: Ladder Leaning Against a Wall, (2002), <>.
APA Format
Schneider, S. (2006, March 15). LTU Physlet: Ladder Leaning Against a Wall. Retrieved April 24, 2018, from
Chicago Format
Schneider, Scott. LTU Physlet: Ladder Leaning Against a Wall. March 15, 2006. (accessed 24 April 2018).
MLA Format
Schneider, Scott. LTU Physlet: Ladder Leaning Against a Wall. 2002. 15 Mar. 2006. 24 Apr. 2018 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Scott Schneider", Title = {LTU Physlet: Ladder Leaning Against a Wall}, Volume = {2018}, Number = {24 April 2018}, Month = {March 15, 2006}, Year = {2002} }
Refer Export Format

%A Scott Schneider
%T LTU Physlet: Ladder Leaning Against a Wall
%D March 15, 2006
%O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%A Schneider, Scott
%D March 15, 2006
%T LTU Physlet: Ladder Leaning Against a Wall
%V 2018
%N 24 April 2018
%8 March 15, 2006
%9 application/java

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Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

LTU Physlet: Ladder Leaning Against a Wall:


A link to the full collection of LTU Java Physlets.

relation by Caroline Hall
Same topic as Ejs TPT Ladder Demonstration Model

This related Physlet presents the concept of equilibrium with fewer components: it removes the person from the ladder. The only problem to be considered is the mean lean angle required to maintain static equilibrium.

relation by Caroline Hall

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