What do we mean by the term work? When you pick up a box, you are doing work. When you push a sled, you are doing work. Work is performed when a force is applied to an object and the object moves. Work is the transfer of energy to an object or body by the application of a force that moves the object in the direction of the force.

Person hitting a ball with a baseball bat

The amount of work performed can be measured. If you push a box across a room, the amount of work that is done has to do with how hard you push the box, and how far you push it. In the physical sciences, we say that the amount of work is equal to the amount of force that you apply to the box, multiplied by the distance that you push the box.

The definition of work can be shown by the following equation:


Here is an example of how the equation works. Imagine that you have found a friend to help you move a heavy rock. You want to move the rock from one side of the yard to the other side. Together you exert a force of 150 newtons and move the rock a total of 3 meters in the same direction as you pushed (in the direction of the force).

Interactive Question How much work did you and your friend do to move the rock?

Work = force x distance