Framework for Electronic Enhancement of Laboratories

Gyroscope Motion - Precession

Background Information:

The Physics:

Precession is a change in the orientation of the rotational axis of a rotating body. Torque-induced precession refers to the wobble that occurs when a spinning objectís axis of rotation shifts in orientation because of an applied torque, or rotational force. Precession, and its relationship to angular velocity and angular momentum, is an important abstract concept that is not always immediately understood.

Traditional Learning Methods:

Precession is a difficult concept to grasp over 2D mediums. Unfortunately, allowing students to experience the forces involved in precession is not always feasible. By introducing precession through haptics, students can experience the affect that various components of precession have on the motion of spinning objects.


When developing visuo-haptic simulators, we look for concepts that involve forces in order to present them from a novel perspective. We chose precession since we observed that students have difficulty applying the theoretical concepts to problems. To provide a different perspective on the forces that act on a gyroscope, we implemented a 3D haptics simulator. Precession serves as a good example of the kind of abstract physics concept that can be beautifully painted through the use of haptic devices.

Related Resources:

F. G. Hamza-Lup and F. A. Kocadag (2013) "Simulating Forces. Learning Through Touch, Virtual Laboratories" International Conference on Mobile, Hybrid, and On-line Learning, 26 February - 1 March, Nice, France, pp 55-58. [PDF]