NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1031903
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Jan
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 4
ISSN: ISSN-0031-921X
Gyroscopic Motion: Show Me the Forces!
Kaplan, Harvey; Hirsch, Andrew
Physics Teacher, v52 n1 p30-33 Jan 2014
Gyroscopes are frequently used in physics lecture demonstrations and in laboratory activities to teach students about rotational dynamics, namely, angular momentum and torque. Use of these powerful concepts makes it difficult for students to fully comprehend the mechanism that keeps the gyroscope from falling under the force of gravity. The analysis of gyroscopic motion presented here is in terms of linear forces and linear momentum, allowing students to understand gyroscopic motion using familiar concepts. Our simulation using VPython models the gyroscope as a number of point masses evenly spaced in a radial pattern. Students can alter the parameters of the gyroscope including starting position, mass, rotational velocity of the masses, and the force of gravity. All of this allows for a simulation intended to help students understand how such a complex system works.
American Association of Physics Teachers. One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740. Tel: 301-209-3300; Fax: 301-209-0845; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A