Goal: Develop good problem solving practices. Determining the value of procedure forces, those requiring use of the 2nd law.
A child is walking along the sidewalk at a constant speed of 1 m/s while
pulling his dog sitting in a wagon. The dog has a mass of 30kg and the
wagon weighs 50N. If the child pulls the wagon with a force of 60N at an
angle of 30°, what is the frictional force exerted by the wagon on
- None of the above
- Cannot be determined
(1) The dog is moving at a constant speed, presumably in a straight
line. The net force on the dog must be zero. Since there are no other
possible horizontal forces (if we ignore air resistance) other than the
friction force, the friction force must be zero.
This problem provides students with a lot of information. The challenge
of the problem (and most real problems) is to come to an understanding
of the situation independent of the specific details. Then based on an
understanding of the situation one can attempt to address specific
questions and make use of detailed information.
Questions to Reveal Student Reasoning
Ask students to describe the situation. Ask them to describe how they
approached the problem. Did you describe all the forces? Did you draw
any free-body diagrams?
Have students draw a free-body diagram (drawing all possible forces) for
the dog. Have them describe the motion for the dog. Ask them to
re-answer the question.