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Homework Help: Finding the spring constant while stretching and compressing

  1. Mar 10, 2009 #1
    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    I have a physics lab that I'm just not making any progress on. For this lab my group used a 314 g cart. Two springs were used, both attached to the cart, and one being stretched the other compressed. The cart was then ran horizontally and it's velocity was found.

    I want to find the the spring constant for each trial and then average it. I have the velocities for each trial of the cart after stretching/compressing. The three velocities of the cart after being attached to the stretched or compressed string in m/s are 1.18, 2.68, and 3.65. For the compression trials the velocity in m/s was found to be .2, .7, and 1.0.

    Natural length of the stretched spring is 6 cm and the compressed 8.4 cm.

    2. Relevant equations

    3. The attempt at a solution

    I tried to used the formula given: k= (1/2mv2)/x with x being the distance stretched/compressed. The values I got were kind of funky. I'm thinking I need to use kinetic or potential energy here.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 10, 2009 #2
    Hi Eric,

    I think that I might be very wrong here, but I am looking at one of the more basic spring equations here; elastic potential energy: Us = 1/2kx2

    …And if it is re-arranged, I cannot find that it turns into one of the equations that you are using here. I might very well be wrong, and I am sure that someone else will be able to help you properly, but I think you need to check you equations and re look at it in a different way.

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