Featured in PASCO’s Advanced Physics Teacher Guide

Advanced Physics Teacher Guide


This manual features over 30 College Board curriculum and AP Physics exam inspired lab activities.

Atwood's Machine

Lab Summary

Use a rotary motion sensor to implement a simple Atwood's machine and determine the earth's gravitational acceleration.


Students build foundational knowledge surrounding the concept of uniform acceleration in closed systems by:

  • Implementing a simple Atwood's machine to experimentally determine the earth's gravitational acceleration.
  • Developing graphical analysis skills and linearization techniques.


Students gain experience conducting the following procedures:

  • Drawing free body diagrams to analyze motion using Newton's second law.
  • Measuring the acceleration of a two-mass system (Atwood's machine).
  • Deriving and manipulating equations pertaining to Atwood's machine.

Sensors / Equipment Used:

PASPORT Rotary Motion Sensor


Put a new spin on many common experiments with this highly versatile sensor.

Base and Support Rod


The Large Base and Support Rod includes built-in leveling screws and an aluminum rod that is 12.7 mm (1/2 in.) in diameter and 45 cm long.

Right Angle Clamp


This clamp fits rods up to 18 mm (11/16 in) in diameter.

Materials Used:

Small Rod 
String - 1.5 m

The Associated Bundle:

Advanced Physics Standard Sensor Bundle


This bundle contains the probeware needed to perform all 37 lab activities in the Advanced Physics lab manual.

Interface Required

This experiment may require software and an interface for data collection.