Physics & Physical Science Demos, Labs, & Projects for High School Teachers

Torque Lab

Posted on: March 18, 2009

torque2We just did this lab yesterday and today.  It took the whole 50 minute period yesterday plus about 20 minutes today.  The feedback I got from the students was really great.  We studied torque in the classroom first, solved some problems, then did this lab.  They felt that they understood torque after completing the lab.  I came up with the lab in the shower in the morning (all of my great ideas and life solutions appear when I’m in the shower) and I wrote the whole thing up in my prep period before their class.  So much for planning ahead.

The lab uses a ring stand and support.  I have pendulum attachments for ring stands, but a regular ring will work just fine.  Using a meter stick, string, and some weights, they first create a balanced system with no net torque.  They then calculate the torque in each direction to show it is balance.  They do this with two weights and then with three.

Next, they pick a location for one weight and have to determine where the second weight goes to balance the system.  They know they get it when the meter stick balances right away.  Again, they repeat this with three weights.

Lastly, they move the fulcrum so the stick becomes part of the problem.  You can read the details in the lab, I think it’s fairly clear.

My lab sheets are here, feel free to use it as-is or modify them:




7 Responses to "Torque Lab"

Hi Scott,

Thanks for the Torque Lab. I think this will work better than the Fulcrum Lab I threw together for last year (using a pointy wooden triangle, meter stick, and Dixie cup “buckets” with marbles). I put together a 1 day Resonance Lab using thrift store wine glasses, if you’re interested. (The kids really enjoyed it.)

–Ketti (a second career brand new physics teacher)

Yes, I would love your resonance lab. Please forward it, I will post it for all to enjoy.

I am interested in your Resonance Lab if you dont mind sharing.

Saw some amazing resources here which I’ll incorporate in my classes.

I would like to share this website which provides excellent resources as well:


Thanks for the link Christine. I added the TAP site and the Practical Physics sites to the links to make it easier for everyone else to find these sites.

Thanks for the link.

I use a version of this lab, but add a piece that considers the ruler as a “plank”. If you put the ruler on the edge of a table (say with 25 cm hanging off), you can then have the students use the moment of inertia of the ruler itself to calculate where a known weight will cause it to start tipping.

You can play with the orientation of the ruler (standing on the short end or long side) to talk about moment of inertia.

[…] AP Physics: The lab students did was essentially this one . My AP students were for the most part, focused, on task, and able to do some good […]

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