hanging mass pulling a cart

Faculty Commons material developed by Kenneth Mellendorf - Published October 19, 2018

Acceleration of the cart determines acceleration of the hanging mass. Acceleration of the hanging mass determines the tension in the string. The tension in the string determines the cart acceleration. This continues from line to line. Students need to determine the formula for tension based on properties of the hanging mass. Many students want to say tension equals the weight of the hanging mass. As this spreadsheet includes a column for the net force on the hanging mass, students should realize that this net force somehow matters. This in turn reduces tension to less than the weight of the hanging mass.

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