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published by the PhET
written by Jessica Mullins
This two-hour activity for high school physics was created specifically to accompany the PhET simulation Masses & Springs. In the first lesson, students will use the simulation to explore how displacement of a spring is mathematically related to the load applied to it. In the next day's exploration, learners analyze the energy of a mass oscillating on a spring by observing distribution and transfer of kinetic, elastic potential, and gravitational potential energy. Materials include learning goals, explicit directions for use of the simulation, homework problems, and answer key.

The spring motion simulation (which is required to complete this activity) is available from PhET at: Masses & Springs.

This lesson is part of the PhET (Physics Education Technology Project), a large collection of free interactive science simulations.

Please note that this resource requires Flash.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Applications of Newton's Laws
- Work and Energy
= Conservation of Energy
Oscillations & Waves
- Oscillations
= Damped Oscillators
= Hooke's Law
= Springs and Oscillators
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
= Problem/Problem Set
- Assessment Material
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Learners
- Educators
- application/pdf
- application/flash
- application/ms-word
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Free access
© 2007 PHET; University of Colorado at Boulder
Additional information is available.
Hooke's Law, damping, elastic potential energy, friction, harmonic oscillation, simple harmonic motion, spring constant, spring energy, springs, springs
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created September 25, 2012 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 14, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
April 14, 2008
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4E. Energy Transformations
  • 6-8: 4E/M2. Energy can be transferred from one system to another (or from a system to its environment) in different ways: 1) thermally, when a warmer object is in contact with a cooler one; 2) mechanically, when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance; 3) electrically, when an electrical source such as a battery or generator is connected in a complete circuit to an electrical device; or 4) by electromagnetic waves.
  • 6-8: 4E/M4. Energy appears in different forms and can be transformed within a system. Motion energy is associated with the speed of an object. Thermal energy is associated with the temperature of an object. Gravitational energy is associated with the height of an object above a reference point. Elastic energy is associated with the stretching or compressing of an elastic object. Chemical energy is associated with the composition of a substance. Electrical energy is associated with an electric current in a circuit. Light energy is associated with the frequency of electromagnetic waves.
  • 9-12: 4E/H9. Many forms of energy can be considered to be either kinetic energy, which is the energy of motion, or potential energy, which depends on the separation between mutually attracting or repelling objects.
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/H4. Whenever one thing exerts a force on another, an equal amount of force is exerted back on it.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
  • 9-12: 11B/H1a. A mathematical model uses rules and relationships to describe and predict objects and events in the real world.

12. Habits of Mind

12E. Critical-Response Skills
  • 6-8: 12E/M5b. Notice and criticize the reasoning in arguments in which the claims are not consistent with the evidence given.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Ratios and Proportional Relationships (6-7)

Analyze proportional relationships and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems. (7)
  • 7.RP.2.b Identify the constant of proportionality (unit rate) in tables, graphs, equations, diagrams, and verbal descriptions of proportional relationships.

Functions (8)

Use functions to model relationships between quantities. (8)
  • 8.F.5 Describe qualitatively the functional relationship between two quantities by analyzing a graph (e.g., where the function is increasing or decreasing, linear or nonlinear). Sketch a graph that exhibits the qualitative features of a function that has been described verbally.

High School — Functions (9-12)

Interpreting Functions (9-12)
  • F-IF.4 For a function that models a relationship between two quantities, interpret key features of graphs and tables in terms of the quantities, and sketch graphs showing key features given a verbal description of the relationship.?
  • F-IF.6 Calculate and interpret the average rate of change of a function (presented symbolically or as a table) over a specified interval. Estimate the rate of change from a graph.
  • F-IF.9 Compare properties of two functions each represented in a different way (algebraically, graphically, numerically in tables, or by verbal descriptions).
Linear, Quadratic, and Exponential Models? (9-12)
  • F-LE.5 Interpret the parameters in a linear or exponential function in terms of a context.

NSES Content Standards

Con.B: Physical Science
  • 5-8: Motion & Forces
  • 9-12: Motions & Forces
  • 9-12: Conservation of Energy & Increase in Disorder
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Record Link
AIP Format
J. Mullins, (PhET, Boulder, 2007), WWW Document, (
J. Mullins, PhET Teacher Activities: Hooke's Law (PhET, Boulder, 2007), <>.
APA Format
Mullins, J. (2008, April 14). PhET Teacher Activities: Hooke's Law. Retrieved July 18, 2024, from PhET:
Chicago Format
Mullins, Jessica. PhET Teacher Activities: Hooke's Law. Boulder: PhET, April 14, 2008. (accessed 18 July 2024).
MLA Format
Mullins, Jessica. PhET Teacher Activities: Hooke's Law. Boulder: PhET, 2007. 14 Apr. 2008. 18 July 2024 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Jessica Mullins", Title = {PhET Teacher Activities: Hooke's Law}, Publisher = {PhET}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {18 July 2024}, Month = {April 14, 2008}, Year = {2007} }
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%A Jessica Mullins %T PhET Teacher Activities:  Hooke's Law %D April 14, 2008 %I PhET %C Boulder %U %O application/pdf

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%0 Electronic Source %A Mullins, Jessica %D April 14, 2008 %T PhET Teacher Activities:  Hooke's Law %I PhET %V 2024 %N 18 July 2024 %8 April 14, 2008 %9 application/pdf %U

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PhET Teacher Activities: Hooke's Law:

Requires PhET Simulation: Masses & Springs

A link to the Flash simulation Masses & Springs, which must be running to complete this activity.

relation by Caroline Hall
Same topic as Illinois PER Interactive Examples: Mass on a Vertical Spring

An interactive tutorial that provides comprehensive scaffolding to solve a problem involving a mass hanging from a vertical spring. Promotes understanding of when to use Conservation of Mechanical Energy method.

relation by Caroline Hall

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