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5 Creative Ways to Teach Springs and Masses that Students Will Understand

April 27, 2023

Springs and masses are fundamental parts of physics that can be difficult for students to understand. However, with the right teaching techniques, students can grasp the concepts easily and even enjoy learning about them. 

A spring is an elastic object that can be stretched or compressed by a force and will return to its original shape when the force is removed. Mass, on the other hand, is a measure of an object's resistance to acceleration when a force is applied. Together, springs and masses are used to describe simple harmonic motion, which is a type of oscillatory motion in which the object moves back and forth in a regular pattern. 

Simple harmonic motion is used to describe many different phenomena, from the vibration of a tuning fork to the vibrations of the electrons in an atom.

Here are five creative ways to teach springs and masses that students will understand.

1. Engage Students with Interactive Models

Engaging students with interactive models is an effective and hands-on approach to teaching springs and masses. Interactive models provide a visual representation of the concepts in action, allowing students to better understand how springs and masses behave.

One way to use interactive models is to demonstrate simple harmonic motion using a spring and a mass. This can be done by suspending a spring vertically and attaching a mass to the end of the spring. When the mass is displaced from its equilibrium position and then released, it oscillates up and down, exhibiting simple harmonic motion. Students can observe the motion of the spring and mass and measure various properties of the oscillation, such as amplitude, frequency, and period.

2. Make the Topic Fun with Games and Activities

Another way to engage students is by making the topic fun with games and activities. For instance, Labster's virtual lab titled "Springs and Masses (Principles): Learn how to detect and record earthquakes" is an interactive simulation for high school that allows students to play with vertical springs connected to different masses to learn about simple harmonic motion and its applications, including detecting and recording earthquakes through a seismic station.

Mass-spring system virtual lab.
Discover Labster’s university/college version of Springs and Masses virtual lab today!

3. Infuse Technology into Lessons

Incorporating technology into the teaching of springs and masses can effectively enhance student engagement and learning. Online resources such as interactive simulations can provide students with a unique way to explore and learn about the concepts. These simulations allow students to manipulate different variables, such as mass and spring constants, and observe the effects on the motion of the system. Additionally, some simulations like the Springs and Masses virtual lab can provide visualizations of real-world applications of these concepts, such as seismic activity monitoring

Spring motion virtual lab.

4. Inspire Students Through Career Exploration

One way to inspire students is by showing them how their learning concepts apply to real-world careers. For instance, a seismologist is a scientist who studies earthquakes, and they use knowledge of springs and masses to detect and analyze seismic activity. By showing students how springs and masses are used in a real-world setting, you can inspire them to pursue careers in science or engineering.

5. Connect Topic to Real-World Applications

It’s essential to connect the topic of springs and masses to real-world applications. One example of a real-world application of springs and masses is in the suspension systems of cars. Cars use springs to absorb shocks and provide a smoother ride, which is crucial for the comfort and safety of passengers. Students can learn about the different types of springs used in car suspension systems and how changes in the design affect the ride quality and handling of the car.

Another example of a real-world application of springs and masses is in seismology. Springs are used in seismometers to detect and measure seismic activity. Students can learn about how springs are used to detect the small vibrations caused by earthquakes and other natural phenomena. They can also explore the principles of simple harmonic motion and how they are used to measure seismic waves.


Teaching springs and masses can be a challenge, but with the right techniques, it can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. By using interactive models, games and activities, technology, career exploration, and real-world applications, you can help students understand and appreciate this fundamental concept in physics.

Try our free 30-day All Access Educator's Pass today and play the Springs and Masses simulation alongside 300+ other virtual labs!
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