e d g e - education for disability and gender equity


1 Work
2 Energy
3 Momentum
4 Center of Gravity


More Information about Force & Motion

Physicists/Scientists with Disabilities

Wheelchair Building


Amusement Park Physics - Annenberg/CPB Exhibits -

Junior Academy of Science of St. Louis
- Interactive Physics -
- Newton's Laws of Motion -

Demonstration of Mass - http://solomon.physics.sc.edu/~tedeschi/demo/demo4.html

Dr. Ken Cullers, Blind physicist - http://businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/may2001/nf20010516_176.htm

Albert Einstein, Mathematician/Physicist with dyslexia - http://www.skolor.lund.se/lerback/it/Dyslexi/AlbertEinstein.htm

John Gardner, Blind physicist - http://cgi.cnn.com/TECH/9511/new_braille/

Stephen Hawking, Physicist with ALS - http://www.hawking.org.uk/

Ralf Hotchkiss - Engineer with SCI & Founder of Whirlwind Wheelchairs - http://whirlwind.sfsu.edu/general_info/news_articles/new_lives/new_lives1.html

Scott Stoffel, deaf-blind engineer - http://www.temple.edu/news_media/pm532.html


  • Potential (POT): the energy possessed by an object because of its height above the ground. The amount of potential energy possessed by an object depends on its mass and its height. A wheelchair is pushed to the top of a tall hill, giving it a large quantity of potential energy.
  • Kinetic (K): the energy possessed by an object because of its motion. All moving objects have kinetic energy. The amount of kinetic energy depends upon the mass and speed of the object. A person in a wheelchair has a lot of kinetic energy if she is moving fast and has a lot of mass. In general, the kinetic energy of a wheelchair rider is at a maximum when the rider reaches the bottom of a slope.
  • Mechanical: The energy acquired by the objects when work is done to them.
  • Elastic: Mechanical energy that an object possesses due to its stretched position (elastic potential energy).
  • Gravitational: Mechanical energy that an object possesses due to its vertical position above the ground (gravitational potential energy).

FORCE (F): A force is a push or a pull on any object. All types of forces can be categorized as contact forces or as action-at-a-distance forces. The force of gravity, electrical forces, and magnetic forces are classic examples of forces which exist between two objects even when they are not physically touching.

MASS (M): The mass of an object is a measurement of the amount of material in a substance. Mass refers to how much "stuff" is there. Elephants are very massive, since they contain a lot of "stuff."

MOMENTUM: Momentum pertains to the quantity of motion that an object possesses. Any mass that is in motion has momentum. In fact, momentum depends upon mass and velocity, or in other words, the amount of "stuff" that is moving and how fast the "stuff" is moving. A train of roller coaster cars moving at a high speed has a lot of momentum. A tennis ball moving at a high speed has less momentum. And the building you are in, despite its large mass, has no momentum since it is at rest.

WORK (W): A force acting upon an object to cause a movement.

Newton's First Law of Motion
An object at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line will remain at rest or in the same uniform motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. This is also known as the law of inertia.

Newton's Second Law of Motion
The acceleration of an object is directly proportional to the total unbalanced force exerted on the object, and is inversely proportional to the mass of the object (in other words, as mass increases, the acceleration has to decrease). The acceleration of an object moves in the same direction as the total force. This is also known as the law of acceleration.

Newton's Third Law of Motion
If one object exerts a force on a second object, the second object exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the object body. This is also known as the law of interaction.

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