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ZingPath: Introduction to Forces

Identifying Forces

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Introduction to Forces

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Lesson Focus

Identifying Forces


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Learners analyze the forces acting on a system and construct a free-body diagram.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • After completing this Activity Object, learners will be able to:
  • Identify the types of forces acting on a system.
  • Identify the direction of forces acting on a system.
  • Explain that forces are vector quantities that represent magnitude and direction.
  • Draw a free-body diagram for a system.
  • Define a free-body diagram as a tool used to visualize and identify the forces acting in a system.

Everything You'll Have Covered

A force is a push or pull, an interaction between two objects. Often, there are several forces acting on one object or system. When forces are acting upon an object, it is important to draw a free-body diagram for the object and label these forces. Some common forces found in everyday situations are:

  • Force of gravity (also called weight)
  • Normal force
  • Buoyant force
  • Frictional force
  • Force of an applied push
  • Tension
  • Force of air resistance
  • Magnetic force
  • Electrostatic force

When drawing the forces in a free-body diagram, the direction of the forces must also be indicated. Therefore, arrows are used to indicate the direction. Additionally, the magnitude of the force is represented by the length of the arrow?the longer the arrow, the stronger the force.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 20 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts None
Course Physics
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary acceleration, air resistance, applied force