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Author:
Jack Bauer

Student Exploration: Inclined Plane – Simple Machine

Prior Knowledge Questions

Jan is moving to a new apartment. She needs to load her sofa and other large furniture into a moving van. The rear of the moving van is 1.5 meters high.

What could Jan use to make loading furniture on the van easier?

Why would this help?.

Gizmo Warm-Up

A simple machine can be used to make tasks like lifting heavy weights easier. One example of a simple machine is a ramp, or inclined plane. You can use the Inclined Plane – Simple Machine Gizmo™ to see how inclined planes can help to lift objects.

On the CONTROLS pane, make sure the Angle is 30°, the Coeff. of friction is 0.00, and the Weight is 300 N.

The brick has a weight of 300 newtons (N).

How much force would it take to lift the brick straight up?

Set the External force to On. A car appears, ready to push on the brick. Set the Applied force to 100 N and click Play (). What happens?

Click Reset (). Using the Gizmo, find the smallest force that is required to push the block up the 30° ramp.

What is the smallest force required?

Activity A:

Redirection of force

Get the Gizmo ready:

Turn Off the External force. Click Reset.

Set the Angle to 30° and the Weight to 300 N.

Question: How does an inclined plane redirect a force?

Observe: Select the FREE-BODY DIAGRAM tab. Make sure Magnitude is on. A free-body diagram is a picture that uses vectors to show the different forces acting on an object.

What does the purple arrow pointing down represent?

The inclined plane breaks this force down into two components: one parallel to the inclined plane (W||) and one perpendicular to the inclined plane (W).

Infer: Which force (W|| or W) will cause the brick to slide down the plane?

Calculate: To calculate a ratio, divide the two numbers being compared.

What is the ratio of W|| to the Weight of the brick?

What is the ratio of Wto the Weight of the brick?

Sine (sin), cosine (cos), and tangent (tan) are ratios of the lengths of a right triangle’s sides. Use a calculator to find the sin, cos, and tan of the inclined plane’s Angle.

Sin: Cos: Tan:

Synthesize: Describe any relationships you see between the ratios you calculated and the sine, cosine, and/or tangent of the inclined plane’s angle.

Make a rule: Use the relationships you found to write a formula for W||and W in terms of weight (W) and angle (θ):

W= W||=

Apply: If the brick’s weight is 500 N and the plane’s angle is 40°, what will W||and Wbe? Use the Gizmo to check your answer.

Tutorial