Lesson Plan: Applications of Newton’s Second Law: Two Masses Hanging from a Pulley Mathematics

This lesson plan includes the objectives, prerequisites, and exclusions of the lesson teaching students how to solve problems on the motion of a system of two bodies suspended vertically by a string passing over a smooth pulley.


Students will be able to

  • apply Newton’s second law to solve problems involving a system of bodies and a smooth pulley,
  • calculate unknowns including acceleration and string tension,
  • calculate the force exerted on a pulley,
  • solve multistep problems including those where the string snaps.


Students should already be familiar with

  • Newton’s second law of motion and the formula 𝐹=𝑚𝑎,
  • calculating resultant forces,
  • the equations of motion.


Students will not cover

  • problems involving pulleys and inclined planes.

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