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Work and Energy

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Lesson Focus


Physical Science

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Work is explained as the interaction between force and displacement and the relationship is demonstrated in three experiments.

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Now You Know

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

  • Explain that work is directly proportional to force.
  • Explain that work is directly proportional to displacement.
  • Calculate the work done given force and displacement using the formula: work = force x displacement.

Everything You'll Have Covered

Motion can be described in terms of energy. Work is the energy of motion of an object that has been moved by an applied force. In order to do work, there must be a force applied to an object and that force must cause a displacement of that object.

In the Activity Object, the only scenarios considered are those in which the force and displacement are either parallel or perpendicular. This is done for the sake of simplicity, but be aware that work can be done at any angle in between. The full equation for work is:

whereis the angle between the direction of force and the direction of displacement. For parallel force and displacement, the cosine of the angle (either 0º or 180º) is simply 1, so it does not affect the calculation:

W = f x d x cos(0º)

W = f x d x 1

W = f x d

For perpendicular force and displacement the angle is 90º. The cosine of 90 ºis 0, which would make work equal zero, regardless of the magnitude of work or displacement:

W = f x d x cos(90º)

W = f x d x 0

W = 0

The metric unit for work is the joule, which is defined as a newton-meter. Force is measured in newtons and displacement is measured in meters.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 20 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts Force
Course Physical Science
Type of Tutorial Experiment
Key Vocabulary apparatus, barrier, conclusion