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Becky McCoy

Lesson Title: Pendulum Lab Pt 1 Timing: 60 minutes

Target Audience:
11th and 12th grade Physics

Objectives:
Students Will Be Able To:
• Observe period motion through a pendulum.
• Explore the variables that affect a pendulum.

The Teacher Will Be Able To:


• Assess student knowledge of pendulums and the related variables.
• Correct misconceptions relating to pendulums and simple harmonic motion.

Standards Assessed: New York State Standards for The Physical Setting
4.1 Observe and describe transmission of various forms of energy.
iv. determine the factors that affect the period of a pendulum

Misconception(s) Addressed:
• The mass and starting angle of a pendulum have a significant impact on the period of the
pendulum.
• Period and frequency are the same thing.

Prior Knowledge: Circular Motion, Mechanics & Kinematics

Aim: Explore pendulums and determine what affects the period.

Concept Map Vocabulary: n/a

Necessary Preparation:

COPIES
• Pendulum Lab Sheet

MATERIALS
• One mass for each group of varied weights
• String or twine and scissors
• Method of securing pendulums
• Stopwatch
• Meter stick

SET UP
• Have materials ready for students to assemble
Becky McCoy
Becky McCoy

Lesson Plan

Aim: Explore pendulums and determine what affects the period.

Physics Push-Up: Quick Review (15 minutes)


“Last week we discussed circular motion, including the cycles, periods, and frequencies involved. This
week we are going to transition to period motion.

In small groups, give students one minute to brainstorm everything they know about periodic motion in
order to give a definition.
DEFINE: PERIODIC MOTION using examples and describing what occurs.
• A repeating cycle.
• Has period (T) and frequency (f or 1/T)  ask for quick definition of period and frequency.
o Period: the time it takes for one cycle to occur.
o Frequency: the number of cycles that occur in one second.

Repeat this step:


DEFINE: PENDULUM using examples – what does a pendulum look like and how does it move?
• Swings back and forth.
• Constant, steady motion.
• Mass attached to a string/rope or spring.

Draw examples of pendulums on the board:


SPRING TYPE (I): Used in a seismometer.
m m
STRING TYPE (II): Used to measure time (clocks).

Discuss the variables of a string type pendulum for this lab activity:
• Mass (m) – 50g to 300g
• Length of String (L) – .1m to .5m
• Starting Angle (θ ) – 30o to 60o

Activity: Pendulum Lab (30 minutes)


Materials:
• Pendulum Lab Worksheet
• One mass for each group of varied weights
• String or twine and scissors
• Method of securing pendulums
• Stopwatch
• Meter stick
Becky McCoy

Procedure:
• Create a pendulum using the materials provided.
• Have a pendulum holder, pendulum swinger, timer, and recorder.
• With five trials, change each variable (MAKE DISTINCT CHANGES) in order
to calculate the period.  A distinct change is length (.1 m or more), mass (50g or
more), and angle (15 degrees or more).
• Time five cycle at a time and find the average time for a cycle.

Activity Summary: Critical Thinking (10 minutes)


Ask Questions:
• Which variables had an affect on the period and which ones seemed irrelevant?
• Why?
• Which variable did we not measure, change, or record? Why?

State that string length is the most important variable because of the equation, which will be discussed
in more detail in the coming classes: T = 2π *sqrt(l/g)

Homework: How Many Pendulums? (2 minutes)


Have students come up with a list of 3 types of pendulums and write a sentence describing their
purpose (other than for a clock or seismic waves).
• Clock
• Measuring Seismic Waves
• Metronome
• Concical Pendulum
• Foucault Pendulum

Exit Strategy: 321 Exit Card (3 minutes)


1. Thing you want to learn or have clarified
2. Things you learned about periodic motion and/or pendulums
3. Variables associated with a pendulum and which one affects the period

Extension Activity:
Show the video of the Foucault Pendulum at the Houston Museum of Science:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB2SXLYwKkM

Point out how the pendulum knocks the dominos over and ask if kids can guess why – as an extension
to the homework, have them research why it swings in that pattern.

Assessment:
Formative:
• Student answers in small and large group discussion
• 321 exit cards
• Student discussion during lab activity while teacher circulates through the room.
Becky McCoy

Resources: n/a

Notes & Adaptations:


2/8/10 – students wanted to know more about why the mass and starting angle didn’t affect the period.
To be addressed in lesson part 2.
Becky McCoy

Name _______________________________ Date __________


Group Members __________________________________ Period ____________

Pendulum Lab
PART I: Exploring the Pendulum’s Variables
A simple pendulum is made up of a string and a mass (or bob). The length of the string,
the mass of the bob, and the starting angle may or may not affect the period and
frequency.

Define period and frequency below.

Procedure:
• Create a pendulum using the materials provided.
• Have a pendulum holder, pendulum swinger, timer, and recorder.
• With five trials, change each variable in order to calculate the period.  BE SURE TO MAKE
DISTINCT CHANGES TO YOUR VARIABLES! NOTE: A distinct change is length (.1 m or
more), mass (50g or more), and angle (15 degrees or more).
• Time five cycle at a time and find the average time for a cycle.
• Record your data in the table provided.

Data Table:
Mass of Bob Approximate Period (T)
Length of String (L)
Trial # (m) in Grams Starting Angle in Seconds
in Meters
(θ ) in Degrees
Becky McCoy

Conclusions:

What did you notice had the most affect on the period of your pendulum?

Which variables seemed to be negligible?

What is significant about what you found?

How could you have performed this lab differently in order to gain more precision?

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