Determination Of The Properties Of The Pendulum - Preview

Determination Of The Properties Of The Pendulum

Subject: Physics
Time: 1-2 class periods
Level: High School Physics (AP/IB)


A pendulum is a classic example of periodic motion, which is a motion that is repetitive, redundant, keeps repeating itself, keeps going back and forth…oh, I’ll stop now. A pendulum only works when there is gravity, and of course can be used as a clock. It is also an example of circular motion, which means there is a net centripetal force, mv2/R. Because we began studying circular motion and will be getting deeper into gravity, we will try to figure out the basic properties of a pendulum and see how we can combine gravity and circular motion together in a few different ways, whether it is a pendulum, an amusement park ride, or satellite motion. Keep the force diagram for a pendulum in mind (what does it look like?).

This lesson was developed by Mark Vondracek at Evanston Township High School

Research Questions:

What effect(s), if any, do mass of the bob, length of the pendulum, and angular amplitude of a pendulum, have on the period of the pendulum?  Our goal is to use mathematical fits to data to determine an empirical formula for the period of a pendulum.  Your group is looking to combine your graphical fits into the form



Develop Hypothesis:

State what you think the effect of mass, angular amplitude, length, and the acceleration of gravity have on the period of the pendulum.  Remember, reality always tends to be a bit more complex than a book!


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Next Generation Science Standards
  • Physical Science
    • [HS-PS2] Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
  • NGSS Practice
    • Conducting Investigations
    • Analyzing Data

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