Lifelong Learning Programme

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This material reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein

Also available in: bg es it lv pl ro sk en fb


Homepage > Experiences > Teachers Experiences


Title of the Experience
The concept of force
Name of the teacher
Paola Falsini
Country where it took place
School typology
High Secondary School
Thematic Area
Experience typology
Teaching in class, Laboratory
Type of contact
Description of the Experience
Force is one of the foundation concepts of basic physics. Following the guidelines provided by A. B. Arons in Teaching Introductory Physics (Zanichelli, 1992), I decided to focus on the meaning of force, rather than directly on the study of such topics as vector quantities, static equilibrium, vector sum and force dynamics. I considered only equilibrium conditions.
Moving from students’ misconceptions, we analyzed and made experiments based on real situations. Students were supposed to perceive the force acting in a specific situation. For example the forces acting on a chest expander. As long as two people are pulling the expander each from the opposite side, or one single person is doing the same thing, students can easily detect the forces in action. Things get more complicated if the expander is blocked from one side and one person is pulling from the other side (students do not immediately realize that even objects can exert a force) or when the students were asked which forces were acting on the person. You can help students making such questions as “who or what is exerting the force?” “where is the force acting on?” “who or what can exert a force?” and using free body diagrams. Sometimes students do not distinguish forces exerted by the object from forces acting on the object, or force from deformation. Students were led to detect forces considering the deformation they provoke. In the laboratory they also experienced that a deformation is not always visible (the laser beam reflected by a surface deviates when there is something on the surface, even if no deformation of the surface is visible).
This experiment (which has been re-enacted several times) helps the students in the study of different types of forces: Hooke's law, friction, weight, force exerted by the support, tension exerted by a rope, electric forces, magnetic forces…

Comments on this Teachers Experience

In order to post a comment it is compulsory to be logged in.

Date: 2014.10.16

Posted by Milena Gosheva (Bulgaria)

Demonstration of the third principle of mechanics is one of the most interesting exercises for students. Whether expanders are pulled by two people, or if one stretches it himself or if it is locked on one side and it applies only stretch force on one side - all examples demonstrate the same law of mechanics. I would use this example in my practice.


Dissemination Seminar in Florence

31 October 2015 The seminar has been held in ITIS “A. Meucci” one of the schools involved within Goerudio project activities. Its main aim was to promote the results of the project toward a broad sample of stakeholders even overcrossing the number of people directly involved in the production of project outcomes. This purpose has been totally achieved especially thanks to the participation of students and teachers coming from different schools or from other classes instead of those ones directly involved within the project activities.