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# NANYANG TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY

First Year Common Engineering Course

FE1073 Introduction to Engineering & Practices

Laboratory Manual
for
Experiment M1

Work and Energy

Laboratory : Mechanics of Materials (MAE)

Location : N3.2-B2-01

Session 2013/2014

School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, NTU
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NANYANG TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY
SCHOOL OF MECHANICAL AND AEROSPACE ENGINEERING

MECHANICS OF MATERIALS LABORATORY

M1 WORK AND ENERGY

1. INTRODUCTION

An attempt will be made to demonstrate the conservation of mechanical energy in the
swinging of a pendulum.

A compound pendulum is released from rest at a certain angle from its equilibrium
position and allowed to oscillate about a knife-edged pivot under the influence of
gravity. As the position and the velocity of the pendulum change with time, the
gravitational potential energy it gains is converted to kinetic energy and vice versa. The
potential energy is maximum at the highest point of the pendulum swing, while the
kinetic energy is maximum at the lowest point.

If the sum of the potential energy and the kinetic energy is really conserved then, for any
initial angle of release of the pendulum, one may expect the potential energy gained at
the highest point of the pendulum swing to be all converted to the kinetic energy at the
lowest point of the swing, that is,

‘potential energy gained at the highest point’
= ‘kinetic energy at the lowest point’ (1)

An experimental verification of Eq. (1) is to be carried out here.

2. OBJECTIVE

After you have completed the experiment, you should have a better understanding of:

a. work done by gravitational force,
b. potential energy in a gravitational field,
c. rotational kinetic energy of a solid body,
d. conservation of energy in a gravitational field, and
e. moment of inertia about an axis.

3. OUTLINE OF EXPERIMENT

The tasks involved are as described below.

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a. Refer to Figure 1 for the pendulum system. The pendulum is released from rest at a
known angle Θ and its angular velocity at the lowest point of oscillation, as denoted by
ω, is to be determined. The procedure is repeated for different angles Θ

with the
corresponding ω determined.

b. The relevant physical properties of the pendulum are determined. These include (i) the
mass M, (ii) the length L
g
(distance between the centre of mass of the pendulum and its
pivot) and (iii) the moment of inertia I of the pendulum about its pivot. (Note that, due to
symmetry, the centre of mass (or centre of gravity) of the pendulum lies somewhere
along the length of the pendulum bar.)

c. From the data obtained, the kinetic energy of the pendulum at its lowest point and the
potential energy at the highest point are calculated. One may then verify graphically
whether equation (1) is true or not (within experimental errors).

4. APPARATUS AND SET-UP

Apparatus

- 1 pendulum (consisting of a long bar with a round disc at one end and a knife-edged
pivot block at the other end)
- support stands
- 1 digital photo timer
- 1 protractor
- 1 stopwatch

Setting up

Figure 1. Pendulum set up.
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Set up the pendulum as shown in Figure 1.

- Make sure that the pivot block lies along the marked line on the support.
- Adjust the height of the sensor so that it is pointing more or less at the centre of the
pendulum disc.
- Note the reading on the protractor for the pendulum in its equilibrium position.

5 EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE

a. Switch on the digital photo timer. Displace the pendulum by hand by an angle of Θ = 20°
from its equilibrium position. Release the pendulum from rest at this angle, and record
the reading on the timer, that is, t seconds, as the pendulum passes through its
equilibrium (lowest) point for the first time. If you miss this, repeat the experiment again.
Make sure that the pendulum is swinging on a vertical plane. Repeat using other values
of Θ as given by 30°, 40°, 50° and 60°. Record your results in Table 1.

b. The timer is activated only when the pendulum swings into the detection region of the
sensor beam. To be able to use the recorded times in Table 1 to calculate the angular
velocities of the pendulum at the lowest point, the total angular displacement A of the
pendulum, during which the timer is activated, has to be known. You can tell that the
timer is activated by the red indicator light on the sensor. Determine the value of A and
record it on the log sheet. Discuss with your supervisor the method you use for
determining Δ.

c. Switch off the photo timer. Displace the pendulum by a small angle (less than 5°) from
its equilibrium position. Release the pendulum from rest and check that it is swinging on
a vertical plane. Use a stopwatch to measure the time for 10 oscillations. Record your
reading on the log sheet. You should now have the period T of the pendulum for ‘small’
oscillations.

d. Use the mass balance in the laboratory to measure the mass M

of the pendulum.
Remember that the pendulum consists of all components that oscillate, including the

6 EVALUATION AND RESULTS

After completing the procedure in Section 5 above, you would have collected all the data
necessary for calculating the potential energy gained by the pendulum at the highest
point of the swing as well as the kinetic energy of the pendulum at the lowest point of
swing for the various initial angles of displacement.

You will be guided below through a set of small exercises to derive the formulae needed
for the calculation.

Kinetic energy at the lowest point of swing:
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During oscillation, the pendulum in Figure 1 is essentially rotating about the knife-edged
pivot. Like any rotating object, if θ denotes the angular displacement of the pendulum
from its equilibrium position, then it has an angular velocity given by dθ/dt at any time
during its motion.

The kinetic energy at that instant is given by

‘kinetic energy of the pendulum’
2
1
( )
2
d
I
dt
u
= . (2)

where I is the moment of inertia of the pendulum about the knife-edged pivot.

Exercise 1. The angular velocity of the pendulum at the lowest point of the swing, as
denoted by ω, can be easily calculated from the values of Δ and the time t

in Table 1 by
using the formula

= e (3)

Check with your supervisor whether you have the correct formula for Eq. (3).

With Eqs. (2) and (3), the kinetic energy of the pendulum at the lowest point can be
calculated if the moment of inertia I is known.

A formula for I can be determined as explained below if we regard the pendulum in
Figure 1 as a point mass M attached to a very light and thin string of length L
g
as
shown in Figure 2. Recall that L
g
is the distance between the centre of mass and the
pivot of the compound pendulum. In Figure 2, the vertical gravitational force acting on
the point mass is resolved into two perpendicular components with magnitudes Mgsinθ
and Mgcosθ, where g is the acceleration due to gravity. The component having the
magnitude Mgsinθ is perpendicular to the string.

Figure 2. The pendulum as a point mass M attached to a light thin string.

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In Figure 2, if we define the distance s by s = L
g
θ then ds/dt = L
g
dθ/dt gives us the speed
of the point mass. From the kinetic energy of the point mass, we obtain

‘kinetic energy of the pendulum’
. ) (
2
1
) (
2
1
2 2 2
dt
d
ML
dt
ds
M
g
u
= = (4)

Exercise 2. Comparing Eqs. (2) and (4), we may express I in terms of M and L
g
as:

= I (5)

To calculate I using Eq. (5), the length L
g
needs to be determined. A formula for L
g
in
terms of the mass M and the period T for ‘small’ oscillations of the compound pendulum
can be deduced by making an analogous comparison between the swinging of the
pendulum and the linear vibration of the spring-mass system in Figure 3.

Figure 3. A linear spring-mass system.

The kinetic energy of the vibrating mass in Figure 3 is given by

‘kinetic energy of the vibrating body’
2
1
( ) ,
2
dx
m
dt
=

(6)

where x is the displacement of the mass from a fixed position.

Comparing Eqs. (2) and (6), we see that the displacement x and the mass m in Figure 3
are respectively analogous to the angular displacement θ and the moment of inertia I of
the pendulum.

According to Hooke’s law, the spring force acting on the mass in Figure 3 is given by
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spring
, F kx = ÷ (7)

where k is the stiffness coefficient of the spring.

Now think of the pendulum system as sketched in Figure 2. For small oscillations, the
moment (about the pivot) of the gravitational force acting on the pendulum is analogous
to the spring force (in the linear spring-mass system in Figure 3) as given by Eq. (7).

Exercise 3. Using the information above and bearing in mind that sinθ ≈ θ for small
angle θ, deduce the quantity (in the pendulum system) which is analogous to the spring

From Newton’s law of motion alone (without assuming the principle of conservation of
energy), that is by solving the ordinary differential equation mx k x  = ÷ , it can be shown
that the period T
spring
of the vibration of the mass in the linear spring-mass system is
given by

. 2
spring
k
m
T t = (8)

Exercise 4. From Eq. (8), deduce a formula for the period T

of ‘small’ oscillation of the
pendulum by making an analogous comparison between the two systems in Figures 2
and 3. The formula for T should be in terms of L
g
, M, g and I. (Check with your
supervisor the formula you have obtained.)

Exercise 5. From Eq. (5) and your answer in Exercise 4, the distance L
g
can be expressed
in terms of T and g as

=
g
L (9)

Recall that you have earlier on determined experimentally the period T of the pendulum
for ‘small’ oscillations. Using the data, you should now be able to compute the distance
L
g
and hence the moment of inertia I of the pendulum about the pivot. Record the results
of your calculation on the log sheet.

Alternatively, the distance L
g
between the center of mass of the pendulum and the pivot
can be determined if the center of mass of the pendulum is known. Discuss the method
you use for determining the position of the center of mass.

Potential energy gained at the highest point of swing:

Exercise 6. Refer to the pendulum system in Figure 2. When the pendulum is displaced
from its equilibrium position by an angle of θ, what is the potential energy it gains?
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(When the mass is displaced by an angle of θ from its equilibrium position, what is its
vertical displacement from the equilibrium position [in terms of θ and L
g
]?)

‘potential energy gained at the highest point’ = (10)

angular displacement is given by θ = Θ.)

Using the data in Table 1 and the formulae you have worked out above, you should now
be able to calculate the kinetic energy at the lowest point of swing as well as the potential
energy at the highest point of swing. Record your calculations in Table 2.

7 REPORT

7.1 Log Sheet and Formal Report

a. Plot a graph of K.E. (kinetic energy at the lowest point of swing) against P.E.
(potential energy at the highest point of swing). Your graph should be a straight line.
What is the gradient of the line? What can you conclude from this?

b. What are the possible sources of error for the experiment?

7.2 Formal Report Only

b. For a simple pendulum consisting of a mass M attached to a very thin light string of
length L, in the absence of air resistance, derive the equation of motion for the simple
pendulum in terms of the angular displacement θ relative to its equilibrium position?
For “small” oscillation, namely θ is less than 5˚, what is the period T of oscillation?
Compare with the derived result in Exercise 4 above.

c. For a simple pendulum consisting of a mass M attached to a very thin light string of
length L, use the conclusion of the experiment to derive a formula which may be
used for calculating the angular velocity at the lowest point of pendulum swing.

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Experiment M1: Work and Energy

LOG SHEET

Name : Date :
Group : Submit to :
________________________________________________________________________

WORK AND ENERGY IN A GRAVITATIONAL FIELD

Initial pendulum offset from the 90

mark = _________

Table 1

Time for 10 oscillations: 10× T = _________ s
¬ Period T of oscillation = _________ s

Mass Mof pendulum = _________ kg

Total angular displacement A of pendulum for which the timer is activated = ______ rad

Distance L
g
of the centre of gravity of the pendulum from pivot line = _________ m

Moment of inertia I = ____________ kg m
2

e (rad/s) P.E. (J) K.E. (J) % discrepancy

Table 2

Notes. (1) P.E. refers to the potential energy at the highest point of the pendulum, while K.E. the
kinetic energy at the lowest point. (2) Attach the graph of K.E. against P.E. to this log sheet.

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Discussion:

(a) What is conserved and non-conserved force? Give an example of conserved and non-
conserved force.

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(b) What is the gradient of the graph of K.E. against P.E.? What can you conclude from this?

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(c) Determine the center of mass of the compound pendulum through experiment and determine
the distance, L
g
, between the center of mass of the compound pendulum and the pivot. Compare
with the value evaluated according to Eq. (9), is it reasonable to simplify the compound
pendulum as a simple pendulum?

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(d) What are the possible sources of error for the experiment? Give estimates for the
percentage errors involved.

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