Vector Addition Force Table Lab

The purpose of the Force Table lab is to practice vector addition using the graphical method and the components method.

Just as a reminder for the Force Table lab, you need the following equipment:

  • circular force table (or a stiff round tray such as a pizza plate, 30 – 50cm in diameter, as shown in the set-up video)
  • a scale/balance to measure the mass of the masses in g or kg
  • three equal masses (can be a standard mass or something small like a D-cell battery)
  • three pieces of string (approx 30 cm long)
  • if using a round tray, you will also need a stool or something similar to support the plate and allow the masses to hang freely
  • geometry set (protractor and ruler)
  • pencil, eraser
  • two sheets of paper (per student)

If there are mutiple students at your school, you can easily share the equipment. You will, however, need to create your own individual drawings.

In preparation for tomorrow’s Force Table lab, I have put together a few short videos.

Here is the set-up:

Here is the procedure:

Here is some information on the calculations you will be performing for the lab:

For those of you who are using a force table, this video by Mr. Ross demonstrates the set-up:

Rubric (click on the image to enlarge it):














  1. Use a scale diagram to determine the resultant force of the system (graphical method).
  2. Use the components method to determine the resultant force of the system.
  3. How close are your answers for #1 and #2?
  4. Which vector addition method did you find easier? Why?


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