Force Plate Attachment for Vernier Dual Range Force Sensor

by falconphysics, published

Force Plate Attachment for Vernier Dual Range Force Sensor by falconphysics May 30, 2016

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1019Views 77Downloads Found in Physics & Astronomy


This allows your to use your Vernier Force sensor as a mini-force plate. It is suitable for many experiments measuring forces, or changes in force, too small to be measured well with Vernier's Force Plate.. I created this so we could try to learn how a chain fountain works.

You can see a video I created below showing the force plate in action. I used an early prototype on the top sensor holding the beads and the final design holding the catch tray on the bottom sensor. While my students and I never arrived at an answer to how it works we could use the modeling skills we developed in class to begin to create a model of what is happening.

How I Designed This

I created this in Tinkercad. You can modify it yourself if you are interested:

It really is a very basic design. The hardest task was just the precise measuring required. My first try, for example, placed the screw hole dead center. That's what happens when I "guess" rather than measure.


If printing with ABS set scale to 100.7% to account for shrinkage. Print this without supports. I added in minimal support for the screw hole that you'll have to remove prior to use. I used a #6-32x3/8 flat head machine screw to secure it to the force sensor after removing the hook.

I've also found that my printer does much better with the large flat area when I slow the print speed down significantly. So, rather than printing at 90 mm/s I slowed down to 50 mm/s and had a lot more success.

Force Plate in Action

Project: Investigating Self Siphoning Beads

Project Description for the MakerEd Challenge

Overview & Background: Some students brought this cool video to my attention. Then we had to try it ourselves. A trip to HomeDepot netted us two 12 foot lengths of beaded chain pulls for ceiling fans or shop lights. We determined that indeed the internet video was in fact real and not just a sham.

I originally did this just for myself, but it could also be a project done with/by my students. I really like this question because, while you can Google guesses/hypotheses, you can't Google the answer.


  • Students will apply physics mastery to a new problem
  • Students will collect and analyze a variety of data
  • Students will build a model to explain a previously unknown (to the students) phenomenon


  • This is aimed at a high school physics class
  • I believe the idea of finding a surprising internet video and investigating the reality of it could be done an other levels and in other subjects as well.

Skills Learned:

  • Students will learn iterative design to arrive at their finished working part
  • Students will reinforce graph interpretation stills
  • Students will be able to use Tincercad to make simple designs


  • Vernier Dual-Range Force Sensors
  • LabPros or LabQuests
  • Several lengths of beaded chain, at least two per student group.
  • Beakers or cups to hold the chain. Plastic cups are probably best for students.


  1. Start by showing students the video of the beaded chain fountain (Anticipatory Set). Follow up with a chain fountain they can see.
  2. Small group discussions/whiteboarding. Ask, "How does this work? What existing models might be important?" The teacher should circulate and help students recall models we've covered in class already (momentum, Newton's Laws, conservation of energy, and such).
  3. Large group discussion. Groups share their ideas with each other. Try to identify questions that can be asked and tested. Such as: When does the loop form? Does it accelerate the whole time? Does 48 feet take twice as long as 24 feet? What affects the height of the loop?
  4. Small groups identify a question to investigate. Share with whole class for input/refining. From this question form a hypothesis. My hypothesis was that this basically acts as an Atwood's Machine. If the chain fountain is an Atwood Machine then the chain will accelerate continuously to the ground.
  5. Conduct experiments to test the hypotheses.
  6. Groups share results of their experiments with the class.

For my individual experiment I needed to 3D print a part to attach to our lab sensors. Not all experiments would require 3D printing.

The duration will depend to some degree on proposed experiments. However:

  • Demonstration and discussion, steps 1-3 above, should take one 50 minute class period.
  • I would allow for two - three class days to develop a question and from the question design an experiment.
  • Time to conduct the experiment and analyze the data will vary but try to hold two - three days.
  • One more day to present the data to the class.
  • Overall this might be one - two weeks. Perfect for that time after the seniors graduate but you still have juniors in class.

I would do this near or at the end of the year in a physics class. You should also have materials available that you envision students might need.

Rubric & Assessment:
I would simply do this as an in class learning activity. Students would collect and share data. In a large part they would be doing this as a review of many of the concepts we covered all year.

However, you could easily have students create Lab Reports or YouTube videos presenting their work and results.

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