"An object in motion tends to remain in motion along a straight line unless acted on by an outside force." -Isaac Newton

If you have clicked on this article then you are either considering taking up physics as a Leaving Certificate subject for your exams, or you are already studying the subject and seeking more information on its associated material.

In Ireland, physics is one of four senior cycle science subjects available to students as part of the leaving certificate program. The subject is available at both higher and ordinary levels along with Biology, Chemistry and Applied Maths. The subject has a long and proud tradition of being an optional subject choice for over 30 years.

Physics is the branch of science that allows students to develop analytical mindsets and crucial critical thinking skills. You will develop these competencies through your learning of interesting topics such as forces, matter, and energy. It was originally called natural philosophy. A knowledge of physics is fundamental to an understanding of the world.

Leaving Certificate Physics aims to leave students with an understanding of the fundamental principles of physics and its application in everyday life. The subject offers a general education in physics, enabling students to develop an understanding of the scientific method and their ability to observe, think logically and communicate effectively.

Science technology and society are an integral part of the syllabus so that students can be aware of the principles of the applications of physics in the everyday world.

When one begins to learn more about physics they expect to study the related entities of energy and force. The laws of gravity, elasticity, level and gears, and describing motion and the pressure in fluids are all concepts that are covered by the scientific discipline of physics in the topic of forces.

For those who are interested in a scientific career that involves acquiring the fundamentals of physics, the Leaving Certificate Physics Syllabus is a great choice. It can be studied during the last two years of secondary school and is offered in just about every school in the country.

Superprof is here to analyze the fifth topic of the Leaving Cert Physics Syllabus, also known as forces, that is offered by the exam board. Now, who's ready for a purely scientific article?

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Why should you learn about Forces in Physics?

Delving into topics such as forces and doing well in your exams can contribute to a student’s future career in a number of ways. It helps, in conjunction with the other Leaving Certificate subjects, to provide a broad, balanced education.

Physics will go the extra mile and teach you to think logically and enables you to express your thoughts concisely. The skills and knowledge developed through their study of physics can be useful in a wide variety of situations and career paths.

This is evident from the number of students that go on to pursue further education and a career in physics after completing the subject in secondary school.

The amount of students choosing to study physics at leaving certificate is consistently above the national average. These students often perform above the national average at leaving cert level. Many former students go on to study physics engineering or other science-related disciplines at University.

When we think of the physics curriculum that is thought across Irish secondary schools and college campuses all around the country, Forces are a topic that never fails to fascinate students and is often a gateway that pulls students into some of the more complex components of the course.

gravity in space
The feeling of weightlessness can be felt by astronauts circling the Earth's gravitational field. (Source: pixabay)

What is a force?

If you have studied physics in the past or have any prior knowledge from the more general science course that is mandatory throughout the junior cycle program, then you will already know some things about forces.

Need some help jogging your memory?

The simplest way that we can think about forces is a push or a pull. Building on this, we must understand that forces describe interactions between two objects. Forces cause changes in motion… easy, right?

In physics, we have had two models that we use to understand forces. We have the classical model and the modern model.

You might have guessed that the classical model is much older and was developed over many centuries, although it was really solidified in the 1600s and 1700s.

On the other hand, we have the modern model which came about as a result of radical shifts in our understanding of the universe, starting in the early 1900s. The modern model is continuously being explored and refined based on new research. So try not to worry if you don’t get it right away!

We use the classical model when we are describing interactions between macroscopic objects by specifying a number of specific, unrelated forces such as Gravity, Tension or a magnetic force.

The model does a great job of describing the sort of interactions that we humans deal with on a day-to-day basis.

The modern model uses four fundamental forces to explain all interactions:

  1. Gravitational force
  2. Electromagnetic force
  3. Strong nuclear force
  4. Weak nuclear force

The two of these that we notice directly are the first two gravity and the electromagnetic force. You also might already be familiar with Gravity as the attraction between any two objects based on their mass.

It’s really not as difficult as it may seem at first, and it’s actually rather interesting!

Before ending their studies of this section of the forces topic, students learn more about potential energy stored in a spring and complete a required practical that has the purpose of investigating between force and extension for a spring

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levers and gears
Gears are wheels with toothed edges that circle around an axle or shaft.  (Source: pixabay)
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Khobaib
5
5 (15 reviews)
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Dr. Mary (highly experienced teacher)
5
5 (63 reviews)
Dr. Mary (highly experienced teacher)
€45
/h
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1st lesson free!
Abdur rahman
5
5 (6 reviews)
Abdur rahman
€20
/h
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Eduardo
5
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Eduardo
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/h
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Umer
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/h
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Sam
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Aishwarya
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Different aspects of the Physics chapter on Forces

Velocity and Acceleration

Velocity is the speed of a certain object in a particular direction. Displacement is used in calculations rather than distance to measure velocity.

Acceleration can be defined as the amount that velocity changes per unit of time.

Distance-time graphs and velocity-time graphs are constantly used by students in this section to help design faster moving vehicles and determine acceleration.

The movement of different objects can be described using motion graphs and numerical values.

When discussing motion in a straight line students discuss the distance, which is how far an object moves, and the speed, which is the rate of change of distance that can be influenced depending on the factors of age, terrain, fitness and distance travelled. 

The calculation that can be used to determine the distance travelled by an object moving at a constant speed is the following:

                                                                                    distance travelled = speed x time

Turning forces can be found in everyday situations and are essential for machines to work properly.

Moments

A moment is the turning effect of a force. They act in a clockwise or counterclockwise way and the magnitude of a moment can be calculated using a simple equation:

                                                                     moment of a force = force x distance or M = F d

Levers

Levers consist of three basic objects such as a pivot, an effort and a load. Depending on the arrangement of levers there can be many examples such as a see-saw, crowbar, scissors, wheelbarrow and cooking tongs.

A simple lever can be as basic as a solid piece of wood laid across a pivot. Levers make use of moments to act as force multipliers. They make it a lot easier to move large objects. The longer the lever the greater the force on the load will be.

Gears

Gears are wheels with toothed edges that rotate on an axle or shaft. The teeth of the small gear and the larger one have to fit perfectly into each other.

As one gear turns, so does the other and the teeth must both move in the same direction. 

Students are not left in the dark since there are many useful examples that can be studied and examined during class time or for homework.

Pressure in Fluids

Pressure is the force per unit area. Liquids and gases are considered fluids and the pressure can be calculated using a very simple formula:

pressure = force normal to a surface ÷ area of that surface

The pressure (p) is measured in pascals (Pa), force (F) is measured in newtons (N) and the area is calculated in metres squared. The pressure that is in fluids causes a force that is normal to a surface.

Atmospheric Pressure

The atmosphere is the layer of air around the Earth and it becomes lense dense as the altitude increases.

Air molecules colliding with a surface cause atmospheric pressure and it decreases as the height above ground level increases. This is the reason why the cabins of aeroplanes that fly at high altitudes need to be pressurized.

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the acceleration of a car
The acceleration of a car can be described by the amount that velocity changes per unit of time. (Source: pixabay)

Delve into the topic of Forces with a tutor from Superprof!

The number of physics teachers that list their services on tutoring websites classes across Ireland has been growing for some time now as more and more students take up the subject for its associated career prospects. Finding suitable physics teachers to help along the way can be quite difficult.

Luckily, Superprof are here to help you accomplish just that! In most cases, students even have the option to arrange a trial tutoring session with their preferred tutor free of charge. This will give you the opportunity to get a feel for the piano classes before forking out all of your hard-earned money.

Perhaps one of the more effective resources, and also possibly the least adopted by students is availing of a personal tutor. A personal tutor can provide some much-needed clarity for students on how to answer some of the trickier maths questions that feature at the university level for Irish physics courses.

Studying Physics at surfaces invaluable opportunity for any students looking to advance their competencies in physics and create some exciting career prospects for themselves thereafter. You can always consult your Superprof tutor on where to take your learning after you completer the secondary school course.

Studying all the topics of the Leaving Certificate Physics Syllabus such as energy, electricity, particle model of matter, atomic structure, waves, magnetism and electromagnetism and space physics can develop your knowledge of the most basic concepts in physics.

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Samuel

I enjoy reading fiction, playing chess, live music and traveling.