Featured in PASCO’s Physics through Inquiry Teacher Guide

Physics through Inquiry Teacher Guide


Features over 30 inquiry based labs covering the core topic areas of mechanics, electricity and magnetism, optics, thermodynamics and more.

Introduction to Force

Lab Summary

Use a force sensor to measure and experience contact forces, and some non-contact forces, in relation to gravity.


This lab introduces students to the concept of forces. Primarily, they will measure and experience contact forces, but there will be some inclusion of non-contact forces in relation to gravity. Through direct measurement and experience, students develop the foundations of understanding the vector nature of forces that will carry through to Newton’s laws and kinematics, and re-enforce their understanding of units of measure of force and mass.


Students gain experience conducting the following procedures:

  • Measuring force using a data collection system.
  • Differentiating between units of mass and units of force.
  • Differentiating between contact forces and non-contact forces.
  • Creating free body diagrams of force.

Sensors / Equipment Used:

PASPORT Force Sensor


Designed to measure both pulling and pushing forces. Uses range from collisions to tug-of-war.

Materials Used:

Balance (optional)

Right-angle clamp

Rod stand

Short rod

Masses (at least three different values)

Objects(textbook, ball, carts, etc.)

Your Bundle Options:

Option 1:

Physics Starter Sensor Bundle


A sensor bundle specifically designed to get you started using probeware in your physics lab. Also: perform 26 of the 37 Lab Activities from Physics through Inquiry.

Option 2:

Physics Standard Sensor Bundle


Contains the probeware needed to perform all 37 lab activities in the Physics through Inquiry lab manual.

Interface Required

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