Mechanical Comprehension Flash Card Set 440696

Cards 10
Topics Drag, Fixed Pulley, Kinetic vs. Static Friction, Potential Energy, Power, Second-Class Lever, Structural Loads, Third-Class Lever, Wheel and Axle

Study Guide


Drag is friction that opposes movement through a fluid like liquid or air. The amount of drag depends on the shape and speed of the object with slower objects experiencing less drag than faster objects and more aerodynamic objects experiencing less drag than those with a large leading surface area.

Fixed Pulley

A fixed pulley is used to change the direction of a force and does not multiply the force applied. As such, it has a mechanical advantage of one. The benefit of a fixed pulley is that it can allow the force to be applied at a more convenient angle, for example, pulling downward or horizontally to lift an object instead of upward.

Kinetic vs. Static Friction

For any given surface, the coefficient of static friction is higher than the coefficient of kinetic friction. More force is required to initally get an object moving than is required to keep it moving. Additionally, static friction only arises in response to an attempt to move an object (overcome the normal force between it and the surface).

Potential Energy

Potential energy is the energy of an object by virtue of its position relative to other objects. It is energy that has the potential to be converted into kinetic energy.


Power is the rate at which work is done, P = w/t, or work per unit time. The watt (W) is the unit for power and is equal to 1 joule (or newton-meter) per second. Horsepower (hp) is another familiar unit of power used primarily for rating internal combustion engines. A 1 hp machine does 550 ft⋅lb of work in 1 second and 1 hp equals 746 watts.

Second-Class Lever

A second-class lever is used to increase force on an object in the same direction as the force is applied. This lever requires a smaller force to lift a larger load but the force must be applied over a greater distance. The fulcrum is placed at one end of the lever and mechanical advantage increases as the object being lifted is moved closer to the fulcrum or the length of the lever is increased. An example of a second-class lever is a wheelbarrow.

Structural Loads

A concentrated load acts on a relatively small area of a structure, a static uniformly distributed load doesn't create specific stress points or vary with time, a dynamic load varies with time or affects a structure that experiences a high degree of movement, an impact load is sudden and for a relatively short duration and a non-uniformly distributed load creates different stresses at different locations on a structure.

Third-Class Lever

A third-class lever is used to increase distance traveled by an object in the same direction as the force applied. The fulcrum is at one end of the lever, the object at the other, and the force is applied between them. This lever does not impart a mechanical advantage as the effort force must be greater than the load but does impart extra speed to the load. Examples of third-class levers are shovels and tweezers.

Wheel and Axle

A wheel and axle uses two different diameter wheels mounted to a connecting axle. Force is applied to the larger wheel and large movements of this wheel result in small movements in the smaller wheel. Because a larger movement distance is being translated to a smaller distance, force is increased with a mechanical advantage equal to the ratio of the diameters of the wheels. An example of a wheel and axle is the steering wheel of a car.