Air Force 2A635 Aircraft Hydraulic Systems ASVAB Study Guide

Branch Air Force
MOS 2A635
Title Aircraft Hydraulic Systems

Troubleshoots, removes, repairs, overhauls, inspects, adjusts, installs, and tests aircraft hydraulic and IFR systems and components, including support equipment (SE)

see aerospace Maintenence Superintendent

experience in functions such as removing and installing system components, performing operational checks, troubleshooting simple malfunctions using system schematics, and repairing hydraulic, mechanical, and electrical systems, components, and SE. 3.4.2. 2A675. Qualification in and possession of AFSC 2A655. Also, experience performing or supervising maintenance functions in repair of aircraft hydraulic, mechanical, and electrical systems, components, and SE.

Advises on problems maintaining aircraft hydraulic systems. Determines maintenance procedures and performance characteristics using technical publications. Inspects, operates, troubleshoots, removes, repairs, overhauls, and installs aircraft hydraulic and pneumatic systems and components, including SE. Identifies and isolates malfunctions, services, bleeds, bench checks, rigs, and performs adjustments to aircraft hydraulic components, associated electrical components, power systems, landing gear, nose wheel steering, brakes, flight controls, weapons and cargo door systems, air refueling receiving systems, in-flight refueling systems, hoist and winch systems, engine start systems, recovery systems, arresting gear, air induction systems, and canopy systems. Inspects and pressure tests hydraulic line and tube assemblies. Drains and flushes hydraulic systems. Overhauls, repairs, adjusts, aligns, and tests hydraulic system and sub-system components. Fabricates and pressure tests hose assemblies. Operates and maintains shop equipment. Uses hydraulic, pneumatic, and electronic principles and fundamentals, technical orders, and schematic diagrams to isolate malfunctions. Records pertinent data on equipment maintenance data collection forms and enters data into Automated Maintenance Systems. Maintains inspection and maintenance records. Recommends methods to improve equipment, performance, and maintenance procedures. Handles, labels, and disposes of hazardous materials and waste according to federal and local environmental standards.

Subtests Automotive Information, General Science, Mechanical Comprehension, Shop Information

Automotive Information

  • 103 Questions
  • 103 Flash Cards

Engine Fundamentals

Components 22 17
Internal Combustion

Combustion is the burning of an air-fuel mixture to provide energy. It requires the presence of air, fuel, and a heat source to ignite the air-fuel mixture. In the internal combustion engine that powers automobiles and trucks the combustion happens inside the engine utilzing a fuel like gasoline, diesel fuel, or natural gas.

Engine Block
Engine Block

The engine (or cylinder) block is the large casing that contains the cylinders and many of the internal components of the engine.


Cylinders act as a guide for the pistons that translate the heat energy of combustion into the mechanical energy necessary to move a vehicle. Piston rings seal the piston to the cylinder to contain combustion gases and also regulate the oil distribution between the piston and cylinder wall. A cylinder head closes in the top of the cylinder forming the combustion chamber which is sealed by a head gasket (head). The head provides space for air and fuel intake valves, exhaust valves, and mounts for spark plugs and fuel injectors.

Combustion Chamber

The combustion chamber is located in the cylinder head and contains the combustion of the air-fuel mixture. This mixture is delivered by an intake valve and the waste gases from combustion are removed from the combustion chamber by the exhaust valve.

Connecting Rod
Connecting Rod

A connecting rod employs a wrist pin to link each piston to the engine's crankshaft.


The crankshaft converts the reciprocating motion of the piston into the rotational motion that's used to power the vehicle and its components.


The camshaft is linked to the crankshaft through a timing belt and regulates the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves in each cylinder in time with the motion of the piston. An engine designated OverHead Camshaft (OHC) locates the camshaft in the cylinder head. An engine with Double OverHead Camshaft (DOHC) has two camshafts, one to regulate the intake valves and one to regulate the exhaust valves.

Cylinder Arrangement

Cylinder number and arrangement depends on the purpose of the engine. Smaller (four and six cylinder) engines in front-wheel drive vehicles often use an inline design which orients cylinders vertically over the crankshaft and aligns them in a row. Other common orientations are a horizontal/opposed design which places cylinders flat facing each other with the crankshaft between them and a V-type design common in six and eight cylinder engines that features one cylinder head per block of cylinders oriented at a 60 to 90 degree angle to each other with the crankshaft at the bottom of the V.

Stroke Cycle 7 5
Intake Stroke

The four-stroke piston cycle of internal combustion engines starts with the piston at top of the cylinder head (top dead center or TDC) during the intake stroke. The piston moves downward in the cylinder creating a vacuum that pulls an air-fuel mix into the combustion chamber through the now open intake valve.

Compression Stroke

During the compression stroke, both intake and exhaust valves are closed as the piston begins moving back up from the bottom of the cylinder (bottom dead center or BDC). This compresses the air-fuel mixture in the combustion chamber which also makes it hotter.

Power Stroke

During the power stroke, just before the piston reaches top dead center, the spark plug fires and ignites the compressed air-fuel mixture. The resulting expansion due to combustion pushes the piston back down the cylinder toward bottom dead center.

Exhaust Stroke

During the exhaust stroke, just before the piston reaches bottom dead center the exhaust valve opens. The resulting gases from combustion are then pushed out through the exhaust valve as the piston travels up the cylinder to top dead center, completing stroke four of the four-stroke piston cycle.

Operation 16 8
Firing Order

The stroke cycle of an engine is governed by the crankshaft which serves to regulate the firing order of the cylinders. All cylinders are not on the same stroke at the same time and correct firing order is important to balance engine operation and minimize vibrations. A common firing order for four-cylinder engines is 1-3-4-2 which indicates that cylinders 1 and 3 fire (power stroke)together and cylinders 4 and 2 fire together.

Air-Fuel Mixture

The stoichiometric ratio defines the proper ratio of air to fuel necessary so that an engine burns all fuel with no excess air. For gasoline fuel, the stoichiometric ratio is about 14.7:1 or for every one gram of fuel, 14.7 grams of air are required. Too much air results in a lean air-fuel mixture that burns more slowly and hotter while too much fuel results in a rich mixture that burns quicker and cooler.

Ignition Timing

Ignition timing defines the point in time at the end of the compression stroke that the spark plug fires. Measured in number of degrees before top dead center (BTDC), the exact point that the spark plugs initiate combustion varies depending on the speed of the engine. The timing is advanced (the spark plugs fire a few more degrees BTDC) when the engine is running faster and retarded when it's running slower.


Normal combustion in an engine is initiated by a spark plug and results in the complete burning of the air-fuel mixture. If combustion is initiated by a source other than the spark plug, by a hot spot in the cylinder or combustion chamber for example, pre-ignition results. Detonation results if the air-fuel mixture explodes instead of burning. Detonation can cause extremes in pressure in the combustion chamber leading to engine damage.

Engine Systems

Cooling System 9 7

Modern car engines are cooled by liquid which circulates through the engine block and cylinder heads absorbing excess heat. This liquid is made up of half water and half antifreeze (commonly, ethylene glycol) which both keeps the water from freezing at low temperatures and raises its boiling point making heat transfer more efficient.

Water Pump

The water pump is driven by a belt connected to the crankshaft and ensures that coolant moves through the engine and radiator.

Water Jacket

A water jacket is a coolant-filled casing that allows heat transfer from the engine block and cylinder heads to the liquid coolant.


The thermostat controls coolant (and, through it, engine) temperature by regulating the flow of coolant through the radiator. A bypass tube allows coolant to bypass the radiator and flow back into the water pump when its temperature is low enough that the thermostat is closed.


The radiator is responsible for tranferring heat from the coolant to the outside air. Radiator hoses transfer coolant to and from the engine to the radiator and a radiator cap maintains pressure in the cooling system to increase the boiling point of the coolant mixture and thus allow it to absorb more heat.

Lubrication System 5 7

The lubrication system lubricates engine components by putting an oil film between them to reduce friction and smooth engine operation, cools by absorbing heat from engine parts, seals the pistons and cylinders to contain combustion, cleans contaminants, and quiets engine noise.

Oil Viscosity

The primary component of the lubrication system is engine oil. Engines require oil blends with different thickness (viscosity) and additives depending on their operating conditions. Viscosity is rated using the format XW-XX with the number preceding the W (winter) rating the oil’s viscosity at 0 ℉ (-17.8 ℃) and the XX indicating viscosity at 100 ℃.

Oil Pump

The oil pump is driven by the camshaft and is responsible for pumping oil through the oil galleries (passages) that run throughout the engine. It also contains the oil filter and a pressure relief valve which prevents excessive pressure from building up in the lubrication system.

Oil Pan

The oil pan contains the engine oil reservoir of from four to six quarts of oil and feeds the oil pump through the oil pickup tube. An oil strainer floats at the top of the oil in the oil pan and screens debris from the oil before feeding it to the oil pump.

Fuel System 5 6
Fuel Injector

The fuel injector sprays fuel into the air stream that's being fed into the cylinder head via the intake valve. The timing and amount of fuel are regulated by the powertrain control module (PCM) which is the main computer that controls engine and transmission functions.

Electric Fuel Pump

The electric fuel pump feeds pressurized fuel through a fuel filter to the fuel injectors via the fuel rail manifold. The fuel rail contains the fuel pressure regulator which ensures that the fuel injectors receive fuel at a consistent and known rate. Excess fuel bled off by the pressure regulator returns to the fuel tank through the fuel return line.

Intake Manifold

The intake manifold distributes outside air to the intake ports on the cylinder heads. The intake air filter removes any airborne contaminants before the air enters the engine.

Ignition System 7 7

The battery supplies the power necessary to start the engine when the ignition switch is is turned on.

Ignition Coil

The ignition coil is a high-voltage transformer made up of two coils of wire. The primary coil winding is the low-voltage winding and has relatively few turns of heavy wire. The secondary coil winding is the high-voltage winding that surrounds the primary and is made up of thousands of turns of fine wire. Current flows from the battery through the primary coil winding which creates a changing magnetic field inside the secondary coil. This induces a very high-voltage current in the secondary coil which it feeds to the distributor.


The distributor is driven by the engine's camshaft and is responsible for timing the spark and distributing it to the correct cylinder. The distributor cap contains a rotor that connects the ignition coil (and its high voltage) to the proper cylinder at the proper point in the stroke cycle.

Spark Plugs

Spark plugs receive current from the distributor and use it to spark combustion in the combustion chamber of a cylinder.

Exhaust System 3 5
Exhaust Manifolds

The cast iron exhaust manifolds collect engine exhaust gas from multiple cylinder exhaust valves and deliver it to the exhaust pipe. Exhaust manifolds can be generic or specially tuned (header pipes) to the engine. Header pipes deliver higher performance but are more expensive and less durable.

Catalytic Converter

The catalytic converter converts pollutants in exhaust gas into less pollutant substances like carbon dioxide and water.


The muffler follows the catalytic converter and absorbs sound to help quiet load exhaust. It is followed by the exhaust pipe which is the final exit point for exhaust gas from the vehicle.

Electrical and Computer Systems

Electrical System Components 5 6

The lead-acid battery is the core of the electrical system, providing current to the ignition system to start the engine as well as delivering supplemental current when the alternator can't handle high electrical system loads and acting as an electrical reservoir for excessive current.


The cylindrical solenoid is a relay that safely connects the high amperage battery to the starter motor when the ignition key is turned. This current then allows the engine to turn at a high enough speed to start.


Once the engine is running, the alternator provides electrical current to recharge the battery and power the electrical system. The alternator is driven by the engine's crankshaft and produces alternating current (AC) which is then fed through a rectifier bridge to convert it to the direct current (DC) required by the electrical system. A voltage regulator controls the output of the alternator to maintain a consistent voltage (approx. 14.5 volts) in the electrical system regardless of load.


The lighting system consists of interior lights, instrument panel lighting, headlights, and taillights. Like household electrical circuits, the vehicle's lighting system is protected from current spikes by fuses and circuit breakers.

Computer System Components 3 3

Sensors provide the data necessary for the vehicle's computer to make decisions and monitor everything from simple vehicle information like tire pressure to complexities like the chemical content of an engine's exhaust.

Powertrain Control Module

The main computer or powertrain control module (PCM) uses pre-programmed software to analyze the input received from sensors and produce output signals to adjust vehicle performance and operation. (Engine control unit (ECU) is another name for the PCM.)


Actuators receive signals from the powertrain control module and carry out adjustments needed based on the data the PCM received from the sensors.

Operational Systems

Drive Train 7 11

The transmission provides the appropriate power to vehicle wheels to maintain a given speed. The engine and the transmission have to be disconnected to shift gears and a manual transmission requires the driver to manually manage this disconnection (using a clutch) and to manually shift gears. An automatic transmission is essentially an automatic gear shifter and handles this process without driver input.


A differential is designed to drive a pair of wheels while allowing them to rotate at different speeds. A transaxle is a transmission that incorporates the differential in one package. Most front-wheel drive cars use a transaxle while rear-wheel drive cars use a transmission and separate differential connected via a drive shaft. The differential is incorporated into the drive axle which splits engine power delivered by the drive shaft between the two drive wheels. All-wheel drive cars typically use a transaxle that includes an output shaft to the rear differential.

Half Shaft

A half shaft is a drive axle that extends from a transaxle or differential to one of the drive wheels. There are two half shafts per drive axle, one for each wheel, each doing "half" the job.

CV Joints

Constant velocity (CV) joints are located at both ends of a half shaft and their purpose is to transfer the torque from the transmission to the drive wheels at a constant speed while accomodating the up and down movement of the suspension. The inner CV joint connects the shaft to the transmission and the outer CV joint connects the shaft to the wheel.

Universal Joints

Like CV joints, universal joints (U-joints) are located at each end of a drive shaft and allow the shaft to operate at a variable angle with the item it is driving. Universal joints perform the same basic function as CV joints but CV joints have a wider range of operation.

Transfer Case

The transfer case splits engine power between the front and rear axles of four-wheel drive vehicles.

Suspension and Steering System 7 13
Independent Suspension

Most modern cars use an independent suspension system on the front wheels. This setup allows each of the wheels on an axle to move independently in response to road level variations. Independent suspension offers much better handling and stability when compared to a rigid axle suspension at the cost of being structurally weaker and more costly to maintain.


Suspension springs are made with wide gap coils of rigid steel cable and both hold the vehicle chassis up off the ground and absorb energy from wheel movement making for a smoother ride.

Shock Absorbers

Because a compressed spring will ex­tend violently, shock absorbers must be used to dampen the spring’s compression and extension cycles. Struts combine the spring and shock into one unit

Control Arms

Control arms (upper and lower) connect a vehicle's suspension to the frame. The connection to the wheels is through ball joints which allow the control arms to turn and move up and down simultaneously. The frame connection uses bushings.

Steering Linkage

The steering linkage is a system of pivots and connecting parts between the steering gear and the control arms. The steering linkage transfers the motion of the steering gear output shaft to the steering arms that turn the wheels.

Wheel Hub

The wheel hub is the mounting point for the wheel and tire assembly. The wheel hub can rotate while being held stable by the steering knuckle which applies the motion of the control arms to the wheels.

Braking System 7 8
Master Cylinder

The master (brake) cylinder converts pressure on the brake pedal to hydraulic pressure in the brake lines.

Fluid Reservoir

The fluid reservoir stores the brake fluid that the master cylinder uses to maintain hydraulic pressure.


Brakes utlize friction to slow vehicle tires. Drum brakes employ a cast iron drum that roates with the vehicle axle. When hydraulic pressure is applied to the brake assemblies at the wheels, internal pistons expand and push brake shoes outward into contact with the brake drum slowing the rotation of the axle. More powerful disc brakes operate by pinching a rotating disc betweeen two brake pads and allow for a larger surface area to contact the disc, provide more force, and are more easily cooled.

Power Brakes

Power brakes multiply the force a driver applies to the brake pedal using a vacuum booster connected to the engine intake manifold. This provides for much higher hydraulic pressure in the braking system than could be generated by the driver alone. Antilock brakes (ABS) use speed sensors and adjust the brake pressure at each wheel to prevent skidding and allow the driver more steering control in slippery conditions.

General Science

  • 264 Questions
  • 315 Flash Cards

Nutrition & Health

Macronutrients 5 8

Found in both animal sources (meat, fish, eggs, cheese) and vegetables (beans, nuts, some grains), proteins are important for the body's maintenance, growth, and repair.


Carbohydrates are major sources of energy for the body and are found in sugars (fruit, cane sugar, beets) and starches (bread, rice, potatoes, pasta).


Like carbohydrates, fats provide energy to the body. The difference is energy from fats tends to be longer burning as opposed to the quick fuel provided by carbohydrates. Fats come in three types, saturated (meats, shellfish, eggs, milk), monounsaturated (olives, almonds, avocados), and polyunsaturated (vegetable oils). Saturated fats can raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol while unsaturated fats can decrease it.

Micronutrients 3 4

Small quantities of certain minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and salt are important for nutrition and health.


Vitamins are necessary for a wide variety of bodily processes. Some vitamins like Vitamins A and C come from diet but others, like Vitamin D, are generated in response to sunlight.


Fiber provides bulk to help the large intestine carry away waste. Good sources of fiber are leafy vegetables, beans, potatoes, fruits, and whole grains.

Nutritional Deficiencies 3 7

A diet lacking healthy amounts of necessary nutrients can lead to a variety of health conditions and diseases. Examples include anemia which is caused by a lack of iron and scurvy which is caused by a lack of Vitamin C.

Health Benefits of Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamin / Mineral Sources Health Benefits
Calcium Dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), spinach. Aids bone growth and repair, muscle function.
Iron Red meat, beans, whole grains. Allows red blood cells to transfer oxygen to body tissues.
Magnesium Nuts, whole grains, green leafy vegetables. Muscle, nerve, and enzyme function.
Potassium Bananas, nuts, seeds. Helps balance fluid levels in the body.
Vitamin A Liver, milk, eggs, carrots. Vision, immune system, cell growth.
Vitamin C Green and red peppers, citrus fruits, broccoli. Collagen formation, immune system function, antioxidant (helps protect cells from damage).
Vitamin D Exposure to sunlight. Helps calcium strengthen bones, muscle, nerve, and immune system function.

Human Body Systems

Skeleton & Muscles 5 5

An exoskeleton (external skeleton) is common in arthropods like insects, spiders, and crustaceans.


An endoskeleton (internal skeleton) is a charateristic of vertebrate animals, including humans.

Bones & Cartilage

Hard bones provide primary support for the endoskeleton while more flexible cartilage is found at the end of all bones, at the joints, and in the nose and ears. In addition to providing support and protecting bodily organs, bones also produce blood cells and store minerals like calcium.

Tendons & Ligaments

Tough fibrous cords of connective tissue called tendons connect muscles to the skeleton while another type of connective tissue called ligaments connect bones to other bones at joints (elbow, knee, fingers, spinal column).

Respiratory System 5 7

The respiratory system manages respiration which is the process by which blood cells absorb oxygen and eliminate carbon dioxide.

Filtering Air

After air enters through the nose, it passes through the nasal cavity which filters, moistens, and warms it. Further filtering takes place in the pharynx, which also helps protect against infection, and then in the trachea which is just past the epiglottis, responsible for preventing food from entering the airway.


The trachea branches into the left and right bronchi which each lead to a lung where the bronchi subdivide into smaller tubes called bronchioles. Each bronchiole ends in a small sac called an alveolus which allows oxygen from the air to enter the bloodstream via tiny blood vessels called capillaries.


The diaphragm is a system of muscles that allows breathing. During inhalation, the diaphragm expands and air rushes in to fill the space created. Then, during exhalation, the diaphragm contracts and forces the air back out.

Circulatory System 31 26

Like the respiratory system, the circulatory system serves to transport oxygen throughout the body while removing carbon dioxide. In addition, the circulatory system transports nutrients from the digestive system.


The heart is the organ that drives the circulatory system. In humans, it consists of four chambers with two that collect blood called atria and two that pump blood called ventricles. The heart's valves prevent blood pumped out of the ventricles from flowing back into the heart.

Pulmonary Artery & Vein

The two largest veins in the body, the venae cavae, pass blood to the right ventricle which pumps the blood to the lungs through the pulmonary artery. Blood picks up oxygen in the lungs and returns it to the left atrium via the pulmonary vein.

Blood Flow

To provide oxygen to the body, blood flows through the heart in a path formed by the right atrium → right ventricle → lungs → left atrium → left ventricle → body. When blood enters the right side of the heart it is deoxygenated. It enters the left side of the heart oxygenated after traveling to the lungs.


The aorta is the body's largest artery and receives blood from the pulmonary vein via the left ventricle. From there, blood is circulated through the rest of the body through smaller arteries called arterioles that branch out from the heart. Finally, blood is delivered to bodily tissues through capillaries.


Veins carry blood back to the heart from the body. While arteries are thick-walled because they carry oxygenated blood at high pressure, veins are comparatively thin-walled as they carry low-pressure deoxygenated blood. Like the heart, veins contain valves to prevent blood backflow.


Capillaries are small thin-walled vessels that permit the exchange of oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients, and waste between blood and the body's cells. This process of exchange is called diffusion.

Blood Cells

Blood is created in bone marrow and is made up of cells suspended in liquid plasma. Red blood cells carry oxygen, white blood cells fight infection, and platelets are cell fragments that allow blood to clot.

Blood Types

Blood is categorized into four different types (A, B, AB, and O) based on the type of antigens found on the outside of the red blood cells. Additionally, each type can be negative or positive based on whether or not the cells have an antigen called the Rh factor.

Blood Transfer

Blood transfer is limited by the type and Rh factor of the blood. Someone who has Rh-factor negative blood cannot receive blood with a positive type but a person with Rh-factor positive type blood can receive Rh-negative blood. Type O negative blood is the universal donor because it can be given to a person with any blood type. Type AB positive is the universal recipient meaning someone with this blood type can receive any other type of blood.

Digestive System 11 11
Mouth & Throat

Digestion begins in the mouth where the teeth and tongue break down food mechanically through chewing and saliva, via the enzyme salivary amylase, starts to break starches down chemically. From the mouth, food travels down the esophagus where contractions push the food into the stomach.


Food is mixed with gastric acid and pepsin in the stomach to help break down protein.

Small Intestine

The small intestine is where most digestion takes place. As food travels along the small intestine it gets broken down completely by enzymes secreted from the walls. These enzymes are produced in the small intestine as well as in the pancreas and liver. After the enzymes break down the food, the resulting substances are then absorbed into the blood via capillaries in the small intestine walls.


The acids produced by the pancreas contain several enzymes that aid in digestion. Lipase converts fat to glycerol and fatty acids. Pancreatic amylase breaks down complex carbohydrates into simple sugars. Trypsin converts polypeptides (the building blocks of protein) into amino acids.


The liver produces bile which emulsifies (separates) fat.

Large Intestine

The large intestine (colon) follows the small intestine and processes the physical waste produced by digestion, absorbing water and minerials that remain back into the body. Solid waste is then stored in the rectum while liquid waste is stored in the bladder.

Kidneys & Bladder

Chemical waste like excess water, minerals, and salt are filtered from the blood by the kidneys and secreted into the urine. Urine is transported from the kidneys to the bladder through ureters.

Nervous System 11 10
Central & Peripheral Nervous Systems

The nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) and the peripheral nervous system which is the network of nerve cells (neurons) that collect and distribute signals from the central nervous system throughout the body.


The cerebrum is the major part of the brain and is responsible for the main senses (thinking, hearing, seeing).


The cerebellum is a large cluster of nerves at the base of the brain that's responsible for balance, movement, and muscle coordination.


Part of the brainstem, the medulla is the connection between the brain and the spinal cord. It controls involuntary actions like breathing, swallowing, and heartbeat.

Spinal Cord

The spinal cord connects the brain to the body's network of nerves. It carries impulses between all organs and the brain and controls simple reflexes.

Somatic Nervous System

Part of the peripheral nervous system, the somatic nervous system is made up of nerve fibers that send sensory information to the central nervous system and control voluntary actions.

Autonomic Nervous System

Part of the peripheral nervous system, the autonomic nervous system regulates involuntary activity in the heart, stomach, and intestines.

Reproductive System 3 4

Approximately every 28 days during female ovulation an egg (ovum) is released from one of the ovaries and travels through the oviduct (fallopian tube) and into the uterus. At the same time, the endometrial lining of the uterus becomes prepared for implantation.


During intercourse, the penis ejaculates sperm, produced in the testes, into the vagina. Some of the sperm makes their way to the uterus where, if they encounter an egg to fertilize, unite with the ovum to form a fertilized egg or zygote. The zygote then may implant in the uterus and eventually develop into a fetus.


If the ovum fails to become fertilized, the lining of the uterus sloughs off during menstruation. From puberty to menopause, this cycle of menstruation repeats monthly (except during pregnancy).

Cellular Biology

Genetics 9 11

Heredity is the passing on of physical or mental characteristics genetically from one generation to another. Heredity is made possible via large strings of chromosomes which carry information encoded in genes.


Reproductive (haploid) cells known as gametes have half as many (23) pairs of chromosomes as normal (diploid) cells. When the male gamete (sperm) combines with the female gamete (ovum) through meiosis to form a zygote, each gamete supplies half the chromosomes needed to form the normal diploid cells.


Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the molecule that contains genetic information. DNA is encoded through a combination of nucleotides that bind together in a specific double helix pattern.


The gene is the base unit of inheritance and is contained within DNA. A gene may come in several varieties (alleles) and there are a pair of alleles for every gene. If the alleles are alike, a person is homozygous for that gene. If the alleles are different, heterozygous.


The traits represented by genes are inherited independently of each other (one from the male and one from the female gamete) and a trait can be dominant or recessive. A dominant trait will be expressed when paired with a recessive trait while two copies of a recessive trait (one from each parent) must be present for the recessive trait to be expressed.

Genetic Type

A person's genotype is their genetic makeup and includes both dominant and recessive alleles. Phenotype is how the genes express themselves in physical characteristics.

Cell Structures 11 20

Cells are classified into one of two groups based on whether or not they have a nucleus. Eukaryotic cells have a nucleus, prokaryotic cells do not have a nucleus and therefore have a less complex structure than eukaryotic cells.


The nucleus of a eukaryotic cell contains the genetic material of the cell and is surrounded by cytoplasm which contains many organelles. These include:

Organelle Function
ribosomes produce proteins
mitochondria produce energy
endoplasmic reticulum helps synthesize proteins and fats
Golgi apparatus prepare proteins for use
lysosomes help the cell manage waste
centrosomes guide cell reproduction

Cell Membrane

Animal cells are surrounded by a semipermeable membrane which allows for the transfer of water and oxygen to and from the cell. In plant cells, the cell membrane is surrounded by a somewhat rigid cell wall which provides the cell structure and support.

Cell Energy

Some plant cells produce their own energy through photosynthesis which is the process by which sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water react to make sugar and oxygen. Animal cells cannot produce their own energy and, instead, generate energy when mitochondria consume outside sugar and oxygen through aerobic respiration.


If no oxygen is present, cellular respiration is anaerobic and will result in fermentation where either lactic acid or alcohol is used instead of oxygen.

Cell Division

Cell division is the process by which cells replicate genetic material in the nucleus. Cell division consists of several phases:

Phase Major Process
interphase chromosomes replicate into chromatids and the cell grows
prophase chromatids pair up
metaphase paired chromatids move to opposite sides of the cell
anaphase cell elongates and nucleus begins to separate
telophase separation of nucleus is complete resulting in two new nuclei
cytokinesis cytoplasm and cell membranes complete their separation resulting in two separate cells


Classifications 8 10

The biosphere is the global ecological system integrating all living beings and their relationships. This includes their interactions with the lithosphere (the rigid outer part of the earth, consisting of the crust and upper mantle), hydrosphere (all surface water), and atmosphere (the envelope of gases surrounding the planet).


A biome is a large naturally occurring community of flora (plants) and fauna (animals) occupying a major habitat (home or environment).


An ecosystem is a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment. This includes both the biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living).

Species Groups

A population is a group of organisms of the same species who live in the same area at the same time. A community is a group of populations living and interacting with each other in an area.

Food Chain 14 14

Producers (autotrophs) serve as a food source for other organisms. Typical producers are plants that can make their own food through photosynthesis and certain bacteria that are capable of converting inorganic substances into food through chemosynthesis


Decomposers (saprotrophs) are organisms such as bacteria and fungi that break down the organic matter in the dead bodies of plants and animals into simple nutrients.


Like decomposers, scavengers also break down the dead bodies of plants and animals into simple nutrients. The difference is that scavengers operate on much larger refuse and dead animals (carrion). Decomposers then consume the much smaller particles left over by the scavengers.


Most animals consume other organisms to survive. Consumers (heterotrophs) are divided into three types, primary, secondary, and tertiary, based on their place in the food chain.

Primary Consumers

Primary consumers (herbivores) subsist on producers like plants and fungus. Examples are grasshoppers, cows, and plankton.

Secondary Consumers

Secondary consumers (carnivores) subsist mainly on primary consumers. Omnivores are secondary consumers that also eat producers. Examples are rats, fish, and chickens.

Tertiary Consumers

Tertiary consumers eat primary consumers and secondary consumers and are typically carnivorous predators. Tertiary consumers may also be omnivores. Examples include wolves, sharks, and human beings.

Taxonomy 6 11

The broadest classification of life splits all organisms into three groups called domains. The three domains of life are bacteria, archaea and eukaryota.


Below domain, life is classified into six kingdoms: plants, animals, archaebacteria, eubacteria, and fungi. The last kingdom, protists, include all microscopic organisms that are not bacteria, animals, plants or fungi. (Archaebacteria and eubacteria are sometimes combined into a single kingdom, monera.)

Classification of Life

Classifications of life are too numerous to enumerate, here's an overview of the classifications from broadest to narrowist:

Classification Contains Related
Kingdom phyla
Phylum classes
Class orders
Order families
Family genera
Genus species
Species organisms


The narrowest classification of life, species, contains organisms that are so similar that they can only reproduce with others of the same species.

Earth Science

Structure of the Earth 17 18

The crust is the Earth's outermost layer and is divided into oceanic and continental types. Oceanic crust is 3 miles (5 km) to 6 miles (10 km) thick and is composed primarily of denser rock. Continental crust is 20 to 30 miles (30 to 50 km) thick and composed primarily of less dense rock. The crust makes up approximately one percent of the Earth's total volume.


Mantle makes up 84% of the Earth's volume and has an average thickness of approximately 1,800 miles (2,900 km). It is dense, hot, and primarily solid although in places it behaves more like a viscous fluid as the plates of the upper mantle and crust gradually "float" along its circumference.


The Earth's core is divided into the liquid outer core (1,430 miles or 2,300 km radius) and the solid inner core (745 miles or 1,200 km radius).

Plate Tectonics

The crust and the rigid lithosphere (upper mantle) is made up of approximately thirty separate plates. These plates more very slowly on the slightly more liquid mantle (asthenosphere) beneath them. This movement has resulted in continental drift which is the gradual movement of land masses across Earth's surface. Continental drift is a very slow process, occurring over hundreds of millions of years.

Types of Rock

The Earth's rocks fall into three categories based on how they're formed. Igneous rock (granite, basalt, obsidian) is formed from the hardening of molten rock (lava), sedimentary rock (shale, sandstone, coal) is formed by the gradual despositing and cementing of rock and other debris, and metamorphic rock (marble, slate, quartzite) which is formed when existing rock is altered though pressure, temperature, or chemical processes.

Geologic Time Scale

The Earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old and its history is divided into time periods based on the events that took place and the forms of life that were dominant during those periods. The largest graduation of time is the eon and each eon is subdivided into eras, eras into periods, periods into epochs, and epochs into ages.

Cambrian Period

The Cambrian period is one of the most significant geological time periods. Lasting about 53 million years, it marked a dramatic burst of changes in life on Earth known as the Cambrian Explosion. It is from this period that the majority of the history of life on Earth, as documented by fossils, is found. Called the fossil record, the layering of these mineralized imprints of organisms preserved in sedementary rock have allowed geologists to build a historical record of plant and animal life on Earth.

Biochemical Cycles 6 6
Water Cycle

The water (hydrologic) cycle describes the movement of water from Earth through the atmosphere and back to Earth. The cycle starts when water evaporates into a gas from bodies of water like rivers, lakes and oceans or transpirates from the leaves of plants.


Rising into the atmosphere, the water condenses into clouds. When the clouds become too saturated with water, the water is released as snow or ice precipitation which may warm as it falls to reach Earth as rain.


The water then accumulates as runoff and eventually returns to bodies of water or is absorbed into the Earth (infiltration) and becomes part of the water table, an underground resevoir of fresh water.

Carbon Cycle

The carbon cycle represents the ciruit of carbon through Earth's ecosystem. Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is absorbed by plants through photosynthesis. Plants then die and release carbon back into the atmosphere during decomposition or are eaten by animals who breathe (respiration) the carbon into the atmosphere they exhale and produce waste which also releases carbon as it decays.

Atmosphere 7 5

The Earth's atmosphere has several layers starting with the troposphere which is closest in proximity to the surface. Containing most of the Earth's breathable air (oxygen and nitrogen), it's a region with warmer temperatures closer to the surface and cooler temperatures farther away which results in the rising and falling air that generates weather.


The stratosphere is just above the troposphere and is stratified in temperature with warmer layers higher and cooler layers closer to Earth. This increase in temperature is a result of absorption of the Sun's radiation by the ozone layer.


In the mesosphere, temperature again drops as altitude increases until the coldest point in the Earth's atmosphere, the mesopause, is reached where temperatures fall to −225 °F (−143 °C).


Temperatures again increase with altitude in the thermosphere which is the hottest (4,530 °F / 2,500 °C) atmospheric layer due to direct exposure to the Sun's radiation. However, the gas in this layer is highly diluted so even though the atoms of gas may be very high in temperature, there are too few of them to effectively transfer much heat.

Weather 11 14

An air mass is a large body of air that has similar moisture (density) and temperature characteristics. A front is a transition zone between two air masses.

Cold Front

A cold front is a warm-cold air boundary with the colder air replacing the warmer. As a cold front moves into an area, the heavier cool air pushes under the lighter warm air that it is replacing. The warm air becomes cooler as it rises and, if the rising air is humid enough, the water vapor it contains will condense into clouds and precipitation may fall.

Warm Front

A warm front is the boundary between warm and cool (or cold) air when the warm air is replacing the cold air. Warm air at the surface pushes above the cool air mass creating clouds and storms.

Stationary Front

When two air masses meet and neither is displaced, a stationary front is created. Stationary fronts often cause persistent cloudy wet weather.

Stratus Clouds

Clouds are categorized based on their shape, size, and altitude. Stratus clouds are low-altitude clouds characterized by horizontal layering with a broad flat base. When stratus clouds occur on the ground the result is fog.

Cumulus Clouds

Cumulus clouds are large, puffy, mid-altitude clouds with a flat base and a rounded top. These clouds grow upward and can develop into a cumulonimbus or thunderstorm cloud.

Cirrus Clouds

Cirrus clouds are thin, wispy high-altitude clouds composed of ice crystals that originate from the freezing of supercooled water droplets. Cirrus clouds generally occur in fair weather and point in the direction of air movement at their elevation.

Solar System 12 12
The Sun

The Sun is a G-type main-sequence star (G2V) but is informally known as a yellow dwarf star. Composed of 73% hydrogen and 25% helium, the hot plasma that makes up the Sun reaches 9,900°F (5,505°C) at the surface. It formed approximately 4.6 billion years ago and makes up 99.86% of the mass in the solar system.

Terrestrial Planets

The four planets closest to the Sun (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) are called terrestrial (Earth-like) planets because, like the Earth, they're solid with inner metal cores covered by rocky surfaces.

Outer Planets

In contrast to the solid terrestrial planets, the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) consist of hydrogen and helium gas and water.


The solar system also contains over a million rocky fragments of at least 1km in diameter called asteroids as well as millions more with smaller diameters. Many of these asteroids are an asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Kuiper Belt

The Kuiper Belt is similar to the asteroid belt but much larger. Extending beyond the orbit of Neptune, it contains objects composed mostly of frozen methane, ammonia, and water. Most notably, the Kuiper Belt is home to Pluto, a dwarf planet that, until a 2006 reclassification, was considered the ninth planet of the solar system.


A comet is a loose collection of ice, dust, and small rocky particles that, in contrast to an asteroid, has an extended atmosphere surrounding the center. When passing close to the Sun, this atmosphere warms and begins to release gases forming a visible coma or tail.


Smaller rocks shed by asteroids and comets are called meteoroids. When these rocks reach Earth's atmosphere, they burn up in the mesosphere and become meteors. If a meteor manages to reach the Earth, it is called a meteorite.


Tides are caused by the gravitational interaction of Earth and the Moon.

Physical Science

Metric System 14 15
Number System

The metric system is a number system that designates one base unit for each type of measurement. For example, the base unit for length is the meter and the base unit for mass is the gram.


A prefix is added to the base units of the metric system to indicate variations in size. Each prefix specifies a value relative to the base unit in a multiple of 10. Common prefixes are:

Prefix Symbol Relative Value Example
mega M 106 (1,000,000) Mm
kilo k 103 (1,000) km
base unit N/A 1 m
centi c 10-2 (1/100) cm
milli m 10-3 (1/1,000) mm
Base Units
Measurement Base Unit Example
length / distance meter (m) km
mass gram (g) kg
volume liter (L) mL
volume (medical) cubic centimeter (cc) cc
time second (s), minute (min), hour (h) ms, min, h
temperature centigrade (°C) °C

Fahrenheit Scale

More familiar in the United States is the Fahrenheit scale in which the freezing point of water is 32°F (0°C) and the boiling point is 212°F (100°C). To convert from C° to F° use the formula:

\(F° = {9 \over 5}C° + 32\)

and to convert from F° to C° use:

\(C° = {5 \over 9} (F° - 32)\)

Kelvin Scale

In contrast to the Celsius scale (measured in degrees centigrade) that fixes 0° at the freezing point of water and the Fahrenheit scale that uses 32°, the Kelvin scale fixes 0° at absolute zero (-273°C) which is the lowest temperature possible in the universe.

Motion 7 11

Velocity is the rate at which an object changes position. Rate is measured in time and position is measured in displacement so the formula for velocity becomes \(\vec{v} = { \vec{d} \over t } \)


Velocity and displacement are vector quantities which means each is fully described by both a magnitude and a direction. In contrast, scalar quantities are quantities that are fully described by a magnitude only. A variable indicating a vector quantity will often be shown with an arrow symbol: \(\vec{v}\)


Momentum is a measure of how difficult it is for a moving object to stop and is calculated by multiplying the object's mass by its velocity: \(\vec{p} = m\vec{v}\). Like velocity, momentum is a vector quantity as it expresses force applied in a specific direction.


Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity per unit of time. In physics, the delta symbol (\(\Delta\)) represents change so the formula for acceleration becomes \(\vec{a} = { \Delta \vec{v} \over t }\)

Forces and Energy 11 16

Force is applied to change an object's speed or direction of motion.


Weight is a force that describes the attraction of gravity on an object. Force is measured in newtons (N) with 1 N being the force required to impart an acceleration of 1 m/s2 to a mass of 1 kg.

Mass vs. Weight

Mass is the amount of matter something has while weight is the force exerted on an object's mass by gravity. So, although a person's mass doesn't change when going from the Earth to the Moon, their weight will decrease because the force of the Moon's gravity is much less than that of Earth.


Work is performed on an object when an applied force causes displacement along the same vector. Measured in joules (J) or newton-meters (Nm), work is calculated by multiplying force times displacement: \(W = \vec{F}\vec{d}\)


Power is the rate at which work is performed or work per unit time: \(P = {w \over t}\) and is measured in watts (W).

Kinetic Energy

Kinetic energy is the energy posessed by a moving object. Potential energy is stored energy in a stationary object based on its location, position, shape, or state.

Electromagnetic Spectrum

The electromagnetic spectrum covers all possible wavelengths and frequencies of radiation. From lowest frequency (longest wavelength) to highest frequency (shortest wavelength) radiation: radio waves → microwaves → infrared waves → visible light → ultraviolet light → X-rays → gamma rays.


Simple magnets have two poles, north and south, and opposite poles attract each other (N attracts S, S attracts N). Likewise, the same pole of two magnets repel (N repels N, S repels S). The Earth has a magnetic field and North and South Poles which enables the use of a magnetic compass to determine direction.

Newton's Laws 5 5
First Law of Motion

Also known as the law of inertia, Newton's first law of motion states that An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Second Law of Motion

Newton's second law of motion states that The acceleration of an object as produced by a net force is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force, in the same direction as the net force, and inversely proportional to the mass of the object. This law basically means that the greater the mass of an object, the more force is needed to overcome its inertia.


Newton's second law of motion leads to the formula for acceleration which is a measure of the rate of change of velocity per unit time and, if you solve for positive acceleration, reveals how much net force is needed to overcome an object's mass. The formula for acceleration is \(\vec{a} = { \vec{F} \over m }\) or, solving for force, \(\vec{F} = m\vec{a}\).

Third Law of Motion

Newton's third law of motion states that For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. When an object exerts a force on another object, the second object exerts a force of equal magnitude in the opposite direction on the first object.

Law of Universal Gravitation

Newton's law of universal gravitation defines gravity: All objects in the universe attract each other with an equal force that varies directly as a product of their masses, and inversely as a square of their distance from each other. Expressed as a formula: \(\vec{F_{g}} = { Gm_{1}m_{2} \over r^2}\) where r is the distance between the two objects and G is the gravitational constant with a value of 6.67 x 10-11.

Sound Waves 5 7

A vibrating object produces a sound wave that travels outwardly from the object through a medium (any liquid or solid matter). The vibration disturbs the particles in the surrounding medium, those particles disturb the particules next to them, and so on, as the sound propagates away from the vibration.


The speed of a sound wave will vary with the medium. Sound travels fastest through media that has particles that are very close together, like metal. Thus, it travels faster through water than through air and doesn't travel at all through a vacuum (there are no particles in empty space to vibrate).


The rate of vibration of sound is called frequency and is measured in hertz (Hz). One hertz is one repetition per second and sounds with high frequency have a higher pitch than sounds with lower frequency. Humans can hear sounds in the range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

Doppler Effect

The Doppler effect occurs when the source or listener (or both) of sound waves is moving. If they're moving closer together, the listener perceives the sound with a higher pitch and, when they're moving apart, the listener perceives the sound with a lower pitch.

Optics 8 11
Light Waves

Unlike mechanical sound waves that require a physical medium for propagation, light waves are electromagnetic and can travel through empty space. Light waves are also much faster, travelling at 186,000 m/s vs. 343 m/s for sound waves.

Refractive Index

The speed of light varies based on the material that the waves are passing through. The refractive index of a material indicates how easily light travels through it compared to how easily light travels through a vacuum. For example, the refractive index of water is 1.33, meaning that light travels 1.33 times faster in a vacuum than it does in water.


Because different materials have different refractive indices, light changes speed when passing from one material to another. This causes the light to bend (refraction) at an angle that depends on the change in refractive index between the materials. The greater the difference, the higher the angle of refraction.


The law of reflection specifies how waves, including light waves, bounce off of surfaces. Specifically, the angle of incidence of the approaching wave is equal to the angle of reflection of the reflected wave as measured from a line perpendicular (90°) to the surface.

Curved Mirrors

A concave (or converging) mirror bulges inward and focuses reflected light on the mirror's focal point where the mirror's angles of incidence converge. In contrast, a convex (or diverging) mirror bulges outward and diffuses the light waves that strike it. A common use of a concave mirror is in a reflecting telescope, a common use of a convex mirror is in the side view mirror of a car.

Curved Lenses

Unlike curved mirrors that operate on the principle of reflection, lenses utilize refraction. A convex lens is thicker in the middle than on the edges and converges light while a concave lens is thicker on the edges than in the middle and diffuses light. A common use for curved lenses is in eye glasses where a convex lens is used to correct farsightedness and a concave lens is used to correct nearsightedness.

Heat 6 5

Heat is always transferred from warmer to cooler environments and conduction is the simplest way this transfer can occur. It is accomplished through direct contact between materials and materials like metals that transfer heat efficiently are called conductors while those that conduct heat poorly, such as plastic, are called insulators.


Convection is the transfer of heat by the circulation or movement of the heated parts of a liquid or gas. Examples of heat transfer by convection include water coming to a boil on a stove, ice melting, and steam from a cup of coffee.


Radiation occurs when electromagnetic waves transmit heat. An example is the heat from the Sun as it travels to Earth.

Matter 17 25

An element is matter than cannot be separated into different types of matter by ordinary chemical methods.


An atom is the smallest component of an element that still retains the properties of the element.


A proton is a subatomic particle found in the nucleus of an atom. It carries a positive electric charge.


A neutron is a subatomic particle found in the nucleus of an atom. It is neutral as it carries no electric charge.


An electron is a subatomic particle that orbits the nucleus of an atom. It carries a negative electric charge. Generally, an atom has the same number of negative electrons orbiting the nucleus as it does positive protons inside.


A compound is a substance containing two or more different chemical elements bound together by a chemical bond. In covalent compounds, electrons are shared between atoms. In ionic compounds, one atom borrows an electron from another atom resulting in two ions (electrically charged atoms) of opposite polarities that then become bonded electrostatically.


A molecule is the smallest multi-atom particle of an element or compound that can exist and still retain the characteristics of the element or compound. The molecules of elements consist of two or more similar atoms, the molecules of compounds consist of two or more different atoms.


An acid is a substance that gives up positively charged hydrogen ions (H+) when dissolved in water. A base (alkaline) gives up negatively charged hydroxide ions (OH-) when dissolved in water. pH is a scale that measures of how basic or acidic a solution is. Numbered from 0 to 14, solutions with a pH of 7 are neutral, less than 7 are acidic, more than 7 are alkaline.

Chemical Change

During a chemical reaction molecules and atoms (reactants) are rearranged into new combinations that result in new kinds of atoms or molecules (products).

Periodic Table of the Elements 7 9
Atomic Number

The Periodic Table of the Elements categorizes elements primarily by the number of protons in their nucleus (atomic number) and secondarily by the characteristics they exhibit.


The rows of the Periodic Table are called periods and contain elements that have the same number of electron shells ordered from lower to higher atomic number.


The columns of the Periodic Table are called groups and all elements in a group have the same number of electrons in their outer electron shell. The group that an element occupies generally determines its chemical properties as the number of outer shell electrons establishes the way it reacts with other elements to form molecules. So, because each element has the same number of electrons in its outer shell, each has similar reactivity.

Atomic Mass

The atomic mass of an element listed in the Periodic Table represents the average mass of a single atom of that element and is measured in atomic mass units (amu). This number is an average as some elements have isotopes with atoms that vary in their number of neturons and, therefore, differ in weight.

Physical State 6 8

An element in a solid state has atoms or molecules that are constricted and do not move freely. Solids maintain a constant volume and shape and exist at a lower temperature than liquids or gases.


In the liquid state, molecules flow freely around each other and exist at a higher temperature range than the same substance in a solid state. Liquids maintain a constant volume but their shape depends upon the shape of their container.


The gaseous state occurs at a higher temperature range than the solid and liquid states of the same substance. In this state, molecules flow very freely around each other and will spread out as far as they're able. Gases maintain neither a constant volume nor a constant shape.

Phase Transition

A substance undergoes a phase transition when it moves from one state of matter to another, for example, when water freezes or boils.

Mechanical Comprehension

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Fundamentals of Mechanics

Principles 10 1 11

Mechanics deals with motion and the forces that produce motion.


Mass is a measure of the amount of matter in an object. In general, larger objects have larger mass than smaller objects but mass ultimately depends on how compact (dense) a substance is.


The more mass a substance has the more force is required to move it or to change its direction. This resistance to changes in direction is known as inertia.

Net Force

In mechanics, multiple forces are often acting on a particular object and, taken together, produce the net force acting on that object. Like force, net force is a vector quantity in that it has magnitude and direction.

Newton's Second Law of Motion

Newton's Second Law of Motion states that "The acceleration of an object as produced by a net force is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force, in the same direction as the net force, and inversely proportional to the mass of the object." This Law describes the linear relationship between mass and acceleration when it comes to force and leads to the formula F = ma or force equals mass multiplied by rate of acceleration.

Universal Gravitation

Newton's Law of Univeral Gravitation defines the general formula for the attraction of gravity between two objects: \(\vec{F_{g}} = { Gm_{1}m_{2} \over r^2}\) . In the specific case of an object falling toward Earth, the acceleration due to gravity (g) is approximately 9.8 m/s2.


Mass is an intrinsic property of matter and does not vary. Weight is the force exerted on the mass of an object due to gravity and a specific case of Newton's Second Law of Motion. Replace force with weight and acceleration with acceleration due to gravity on Earth (g) and the result is the formula for weight: W = mg or, substituting for g, weight equals mass multiplied by 9.8 m/s2.

Boyle's Law

Boyle's law states that "for a fixed amount of an ideal gas kept at a fixed temperature, pressure and volume are inversely proportional". Expressed as a formula, that's \(\frac{P_1}{P_2} = \frac{V_2}{V_1}\)

Friction 11 9
Kinetic Friction

Friction resists movement. Kinetic (also called sliding or dynamic) friction resists movement in a direction opposite to the movement. Because it opposes movement, kinetic friction will eventually bring an object to a stop. An example is a rock that's sliding across ice.

Static Friction

Static friction is friction between two or more solid objects that are not moving relative to each other. An example is the friction that prevents a box on a sloped surface from sliding farther down the surface.

Coefficient of Friction

Coefficient of friction (μ) represents how much two materials resist sliding across each other. Smooth surfaces like ice have low coefficients of friction while rough surfaces like concrete have high μ.

Normal Force

Normal force (FN) represents the force a surface exerts when an object presses against it.

Force of Friction

The formula for force of friction (Ff) is the same whether kinetic or static friction applies: Ff = μFN. To distinguish between kinetic and static friction, μk and μs are often used in place of μ.

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).

Normal Force vs. Weight

Normal force arises on a flat horizontal surface in response to an object's weight pressing it down. Consequently, normal force is generally equal to the object's weight.

Other Forces 11 2 10

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.


Tension is a force that stretches or elongates something. When a cable or rope is used to pull an object, for example, it stretches internally as it accepts the weight that it's moving. Although tension is often treated as applying equally to all parts of a material, it's greater at the places where the material is under the most stress.

Hydraulic Pressure

Hydraulics is the transmission of force through the use of liquids. Liquids are especially suited for transferring force in complex machines because they compress very little and can occupy very small spaces. Hydraulic pressure is calculated by dividing force by the area over which it is applied: P = F/A where F is force in pounds, A is area in square inches, and the resulting pressure is in pounds per square inch (psi).

Pascal's Law

Pascal's law states that a pressure change occurring anywhere in a confined incompressible fluid is transmitted throughout the fluid such that the same change occurs everywhere. For a hydraulic system, this means that a pressure applied to the input of the system will increase the pressure everywhere in the system.


Torque measures force applied during rotation: τ = rF. Torque (τ, the Greek letter tau) = the radius of the lever arm (r) multiplied by the force (F) applied. Radius is measured from the center of rotation or fulcrum to the point at which the perpendicular force is being applied. The resulting unit for torque is newton-meter (N-m) or foot-pound (ft-lb).

Principle of Moments

When a system is stable or balanced (equilibrium) all forces acting on the system cancel each other out. In the case of torque, equilibrium means that the sum of the anticlockwise moments about a center of rotation equal the sum of the clockwise moments.

Energy, Work, & Power 14 3 14

The Joule (J) is the standard unit of energy and has the unit \({kg \times m^2} \over s^2\).

Kinetic Energy

Kinetic energy is the energy of movement and is a function of the mass of an object and its speed: \(KE = {1 \over 2}mv^2\) where m is mass in kilograms, v is speed in meters per second, and KE is in joules. The most impactful quantity to kinetic energy is velocity as an increase in mass increases KE linearly while an increase in speed increases KE exponentially.

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.

Gravitational Potential Energy

Gravitational potential energy is energy by virtue of gravity. The higher an object is raised above a surface the greater the distance it must fall to reach that surface and the more velocity it will build as it falls. For gravitational potential energy, PE = mgh where m is mass (kilograms), h is height (meters), and g is acceleration due to gravity which is a constant (9.8 m/s2).

Conservation of Mechanical Energy

As an object falls, its potential energy is converted into kinetic energy. The principle of conservation of mechanical energy states that, as long as no other forces are applied, total mechanical energy (PE + KE) of the object will remain constant at all points in its descent.


Work is accomplished when force is applied to an object: W = Fd where F is force in newtons (N) and d is distance in meters (m). Thus, the more force that must be applied to move an object, the more work is done and the farther an object is moved by exerting force, the more work is done.

Work-Energy Theorem

The work-energy theorem states that the work done by the sum of all forces acting on a particle equals the change in the kinetic energy of the particle. Simply put, work imparts kinetic energy to the matter upon which the work is being done.


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.


Simple Machines 28 26 33
Types of Simple Machines

The six types of simple machines are the lever, wheel and axle, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, and screw.

Mechanical Advantage

Mechanical advantage is a measure of the force amplification achieved by using a tool, mechanical device or machine system. Such a device utilizes input force and trades off forces against movement to amplify and/or change its direction.


The efficiency of a machine describes how much of the power put into the machine is turned into movement or force. A 100% efficient machine would turn all of the input power into output movement or force. However, no machine is 100% efficient due to friction, heat, wear and other imperfections that consume input power without delivering any output.

Inclined Plane
Inclined Plane

An inclined plane is a simple machine that reduces the force needed to raise an object to a certain height. Work equals force x distance and, by increasing the distance that the object travels, an inclined plane reduces the force necessary to raise it to a particular height. In this case, the mechanical advantage is to make the task easier. An example of an inclined plane is a ramp.


The wedge is a moving inclined plane that is used to lift, hold, or break apart an object. A wedge converts force applied to its blunt end into force perpendicular to its inclined surface. In contrast to a stationary plane where force is applied to the object being moved, with a wedge the object is stationary and the force is being applied to the plane. Examples of a wedge include knives and chisels.

First-Class Lever
First-Class Lever

A first-class lever is used to increase force or distance while changing the direction of the force. The lever pivots on a fulcrum and, when a force is applied to the lever at one side of the fulcrum, the other end moves in the opposite direction. The position of the fulcrum also defines the mechanical advantage of the lever. If the fulcrum is closer to the force being applied, the load can be moved a greater distance at the expense of requiring a greater input force. If the fulcrum is closer to the load, less force is required but the force must be applied over a longer distance. An example of a first-class lever is a seesaw / teeter-totter.

Second-Class Lever
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.

Third-Class Lever
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.

Fixed Pulley
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.

Block and Tackle
Block and Tackle

Two or more pulleys used together constitute a block and tackle which, unlike a fixed pulley, does impart mechanical advantage as a function of the number of pulleys that make up the arrangement. So, for example, a block and tackle with three pulleys would have a mechanical advantage of three.

Wheel and Axle
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.


A screw is an inclined plane wrapped in ridges (threads) around a cylinder. The distance between these ridges defines the pitch of the screw and this distance is how far the screw advances when it is turned once. The mechanical advantage of a screw is its circumference divided by the pitch.

Gears 7 2 6
Gear Trains

Connected gears of different numbers of teeth are used together to change the rotational speed and torque of the input force. If the smaller gear drives the larger gear, the speed of rotation will be reduced and the torque will increase. If the larger gear drives the smaller gear, the speed of rotation will increase and the torque will be reduced.

Gear Ratio

The mechanical advantage (amount of change in speed or torque) of connected gears is proportional to the number of teeth each gear has. Called gear ratio, it's the ratio of the number of teeth on the larger gear to the number of teeth on the smaller gear. For example, a gear with 12 teeth connected to a gear with 9 teeth would have a gear ratio of 4:3.


General 7 10
Force Lines of Action

Collinear forces act along the same line of action, concurrent forces pass through a common point and coplanar forces act in a common plane.

Bridge Forms

The six basic bridge forms are beam, truss, arch, cantilever, cable, and suspension.

Modulus of Elasticity

The modulus of elasticity measures how much a material or structure will deflect under stress. Stretch modulus is longitudinal stretch (like stretching raw bread dough), shear modulus is longitudinal deflection (like the horizontal displacement of a stack of magzines when a heavy object is placed upon them), and bulk modulus is compression of volume (like the compression of a loaf of bread under a heavy can at the bottom of a grocery bag).


Ceramics are mixtures of metallic and nonmetallic elements that withstand exteme thermal, chemical, and pressure environments. They have a high melting point, low corrosive action, and are chemically stable. Examples include rock, sand, clay, glass, brick, and porcelain.

Specific Gravity

Specific gravity is the ratio of the density of equal volumes of a substance and water and is measured by a hyrdometer.

Loads 6 7
Building Loads

Dead load is the weight of the building and materials, live load is additional weight due to occupancy or use, snow load is the weight of accumulated snow on a structure and wind load is the force of wind pressures against structure surfaces.

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.

Shop Information

  • 62 Questions
  • 68 Flash Cards

Hand Tools

Measuring Tools 12 11

Rulers are used to both measure distance and to draw straight lines. Tape measures are flexible rulers made from cloth or metal and are useful for measuring longer distances and in tighter spaces. Both rulers and tape measures provide similar accuracy, commonly down to \({1 \over 16}\) or \({1 \over 32}\) inch. A steel framing square is made up of a shorter ruler (tongue) and a longer ruler (blade) that meet at a 90° (right) angle. A framing square is often used by carpenters when framing stairs and roofs.


Micrometers provide accuracy to the thousandths of an inch and come in outside and inside varieties. An outside micrometer is used to measure outside thickness, such as the diameter of a bolt, while an inside micrometer is used to measure the inside dimension of an object, such as the diameter of the hole of a nut or the width of a channel.


Calipers are similar to micrometers in shape but instead of measuring distances, calipers are used to transfer distances between objects. An outside caliper is used to transfer outside dimensions while an inside caliper is used to transfer inside distances. A vernier caliper is an extremely precise caliper (down to \({1 \over 1000}\) inch) that allows measuring / transferring either inside or outside dimensions.


Levels utlize a fluid-filled tube containing a bubble that is centered when the surface is horizontal (level) or vertical (plumb) along the direction of the tube. While a standard level can measure along a single dimension, a bullseye level is circular and can indicate the levelness of a two dimensional plane.

Striking Tools & Fasteners 4 4

The most common striking tool is the hammer and the most common variety of hammer is the claw hammer. The claw hammer has two ends, one to drive nails and one to remove nails. Ball-peen hammers replace the claw with a rounded end that's used to round off the edges of metal pins and make gaskets. A sledge hammer is a two-handed long-handled hammer with a large steel head used for heavy duty jobs.


A mallet is a hammer with a relatively large head, often made of rubber or wood. Both the size and material of the mallet head help prevent damage when striking more delicate surfaces.


A nail is a short pin-shaped shaft of steel that's typically used to fasten pieces of wood together. It has a flat head on one end and a point on the other. A rivet consists of a cylindrical shaft with a head on one end and a tail on the other. When the rivet is installed, the tail is expanded and reshaped to form another head, creating a dumbell shape that will hold two surfaces together semi-permanently.

Chisels & Punches 4 5

A chisel has a long sharp edge and is used, often in conjunction with a hammer, for cutting. In woodworking, chisels are used to remove large sections of wood to create the initial shape of a design. In metalworking, chisels are used to remove waste metal when a smooth finish is not required.


A punch is narrow and is used to drive objects like nails (pin punch) or for making guide marks for drilling (center punch) or patterns in wood or metal.

Turning Tools & Fasteners 12 11

Screwdrivers come in many different handle, shaft, and tip configurations for use in a wide variety of applications. Screwdrivers are classified by their tip which is shaped to fit a corresponding screw head. Common tips are slotted (flat) and Phillips (x-shaped).


Wrenches are used to provide grip and mechanical advantage by applying torque to turn objects (or to keep them from turning). The longer the wrench, the more torque that can be applied. Wrench ends are available in two primary types, open-end and box-end. A box-end wrench encloses the bolt head and is useful when more torque is needed or to maintain contact in difficult to reach locations. An open-end wrench is designed for speedily loosening easier to reach fasteners. Wrenches that feature one open and one box end are called combination wrenches and adjustable wrenches feature an open end with an adjustable width.


A ratchet (or socket wrench) is a wrench that applies torque in only one direction with a handle that can be moved back and forth without losing contact with the fastener. A ratchet uses variable attachments called sockets which come in a variety of drive sizes based on the size of the opening that attaches to the ratchet. Sockets with the same drive size will vary in the shape (six-point, twelve-point) and size of the nut opening that attaches to the fastener being tightened or loosened. Smaller point sized sockets are stronger and can apply greater torque while larger point sizes allow easier alignment.


Wrenches are used with threaded fasteners like bolts and nuts. A bolt has external threads while a nut has internal threads and this thread pattern combination allows them to lock together and act as fasteners. Nuts come in a variety of configurations including wing nuts which provide appendages that allow tightening and loosening by hand, slotted nuts that use a cotter pin to lock the nut in place and prevent it from loosening, and lock nuts that also prevent loosening via nylon in their threads. Threads are identified by pitch which is the number of threads per inch.

Gripping & Pincing Tools 5 10

Pliers are designed to provide a mechanical advantage, allowing the force of the hand's grip to be amplified and focused with precision. Pliers also allow finer control over objects that are too small to be manipulated by the fingers alone. The standard configuration is combination pliers which provide a fixed maximum jaw width. Other styles include adjustable joint pliers that allow selecting jaw width, needle nose pliers for holding small objects in tight spaces and locking pliers that will lock in place to hold or clamp objects together.


Pincers provide a mechanical advantage that's used to cut, pinch or pull an object. The force applied to pincers is concentrated to a point or to an edge of the tool which allows pincers to be brought very close to a surface. Pincers are typically used for removing objects from a material to which they've previously been applied, for example, to pull nails from wood.


A clamp applies pressure to prevent two objects from moving relative to each other, for example, to keep to pieces of wood together while the glue between the dries. A clamp is commonly made of metal and shaped like the letter C with a perpendicular flat-edged plate providing variable pressure between it and the top of the C as a screw to which it is attached is tightened and released.


A vise is a clamp that is anchored to a work station and designed to hold material in place while it is being operated upon.

Soldering & Welding 7 7

Soldering is a low-temperature process by which two or more items (typically metal) are joined together by melting a filler metal (solder) into the joint. An electrically powered soldering iron or soldering gun is used to melt the solder which is an alloy of lead and tin that has a melting point below the melting point of the items being joined. A chemical cleaning agent called flux is also used to clean the surfaces before soldering.


Welding is a high-temperature process that involves melting the base metals in the objects to be joined to fuse them together. A filler metal is used to provide additional material to make up a joint that, depending on the weld type, can be stronger than the base materials alone. Oxyacetylene welding is a welding process that uses a torch fueled with oxygen and acetylene gases. Electric-arc welding utlizes electric current in a safer welding process (it doesn't involve burning explosive gases) that enables a wide variety of specialized applications like stick, MIG (metal inert gas), and TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding.

Saws 11 10
Wood Saws
Wood Saws

Wood saws are categorized by their teeth shape and the number of teeth per inch (TPI). The higher the TPI of a saw the finer the cut it will make. Crosscut saws utilize knife-shaped teeth that cut across the grain of the wood while rip saws cut with the grain using chisel-shaped teeth that rip the wood cells apart as the cut is made. The kerf (slot) made by by a crosscut saw is much smoother than that made by a rip saw but a rip saw cuts much faster. Coping saws are a type of bow saw used to make detailed often curving cuts using replaceable blades with fine small teeth.


A hacksaw has replaceable blades and is used to cut metal. The blade type is chosen based on the material that is to be cut. Blades with larger numbers of teeth per inch are more appropriate for cutting thinner materials.

Miter Box
Miter Box

A miter box utlizes a back saw (a fine toothed saw with a rigid strip of steel opposite its blade edge) to make cuts in wood at a specified angle.

Drills 3 4

Drilling is the process of making small holes in wood or metal while boring is the process of making larger holes.

Drill Bits
Drill Bits

Drill bits remove material to create holes. They come in a variety of sizes, maxing out at ¼" for woodworking and ½" for metalworking. The majority of drill bits are right-handed which means they cut while rotating in a clockwise direction.


Electric drills utilize a chuck to hold the drill bit. A chuck's size indicates the largest diameter drill bit that will fit. A chuck is tightened and loosened using a chuck key.

Finishing Tools 4 6

In wooodworking, a plane is used to shave off a small amount of material to smooth a surface or make it fit properly. A jack plane is a general purpose plane that contains an adjustable depth blade set at an angle with a handle and knob to allow gripping when sliding the plane across wood.


Wood chisels are used to shape or smooth wood surfaces. They come in a variety of widths and can be used with hand power or tapped with a mallet when deeper cuts need to be made.


Files consist of diagonal rows of fine teeth and are used for fine finishing work to smooth, polish, or shape objects. Rasps are files with larger teeth that are used for coarse finishing work. Both files and rasps are designed to be inserted into detachable handles.


A router is a tool that a worker uses to rout (hollow out), shape, or contour an area in relatively hard material like wood or plastic.