Springs. Force, energy and Hooke’s law

Would you like to know how a spring works and how the different parameters that characterize it are related?

The online spring simulations on this page teach us in a practical way how these devices work, what are the forces that act, how they store energy and what Hooke’s law tells us.

A spring is a flexible and elastic mechanical device used to store elastic potential energy and apply force when deformed. It consists of a strip, wire or rod of elastic material, such as steel or metal, that has a coiled, spiral or zigzag shape. When a spring is compressed or stretched, it stores potential energy in the form of elastic deformation, and when released, that energy is converted into kinetic energy.

Springs can have different shapes and configurations depending on their specific use. Some common examples include compression springs, extension springs and torsion springs.

These devices are governed by Hooke’s Law, which states the linear relationship between the force applied on a spring and the resulting deformation. Hooke’s Law is stated as F = -kx, where F represents the applied force, k is the spring constant (also known as the elastic constant) and x is the deformation experienced by the spring. The equation indicates that the force is proportional to the deformation and acts in the opposite direction to it. Strictly speaking, Hooke’s Law is a valid approximation as long as the deformation is small and the spring material maintains its linear elastic behavior. However, at larger deformations, other factors such as plasticity and fatigue can affect the spring response.

Springs have a huge variety of applications: automotive suspensions, watches, mattresses, automatic doors and many more.

Elastic force


Work and energy in a spring


Energy in a spring


Hooke’s Law


Stretch and compress springs to explore the relationships between force, spring constant, displacement and potential energy! Investigate what happens when two springs are connected in series and parallel.

File

Click here to start the simulation
Licencia de Creative Commons

Masses and springs I


Hang masses from springs and discover how they stretch and oscillate. Compare two spring mass systems and experiment with the spring constant. Transport the lab to different planets, slow down time, and observe velocity and acceleration throughout the oscillation.

File

Click here to start the simulation
Licencia de Creative Commons

Masses and springs II


Hang masses on springs and adjust the spring constant and damping. Transport the lab to different planets, or slow down time. Observe the forces and energy in the system in real time and measure the period using the stopwatch.

File

Click here to start the simulation
Licencia de Creative Commons

Physics courses

Other courses

You may also be interested

Work

Jumps

Resistance

Refraction

You may also be interested

Convex

Coulomb's Law

Jumps

Forces