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.

Work and Energy

Lab Summary

Use a motion sensor and force sensor to develop an understanding of the work-energy theorem that relates the work done on an object by a net force to the change in the object’s kinetic energy.


Students develop an understanding of the work-energy theorem. In this lab, students investigate:

  • The work done on a dynamics cart by a net force.
  • Graphical representations of force applied over a distance.
  • Changes in kinetic energy relative to the amount of work done on the cart.


Students will gain experience conducting the following procedures:

  • Assembling a modified Atwood machine using a cart, track, and pulley system.
  • Measuring the force applied to a cart by the hanging mass, while simultaneously measuring the displacement of the cart as it accelerates.
  • Analyzing a force versus distance graph in order to evaluate the area under the graph, which is a representation for the mechanical work done on the cart.
  • Quantifying the magnitude of the cart's change in kinetic energy by calculating and taking the difference in the final and initial kinetic energies using recorded velocity data.
  • Comparing measured values for the change in kinetic energy of the cart to the work done on the cart.

Sensors / Equipment Used:

PASPORT Force Sensor


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

PASPORT Motion Sensor


The PASPORT Motion Sensor accurately measures position, velocity, and acceleration of a target. Can be used to track the motion of carts, balls, people and more.

Materials Used:

Dynamics track

Dynamics cart

Dynamics track end stop

Super pulley with clamp

Mass and hanger set


String 1.5 m

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.