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Becky McCoy

Lesson Title: Pendulum Transition to Waves Timing: 60


Target Audience:
11th and 12th grade Physics class

Students Will Be Able To:
• Demonstrate their knowledge of pendulums and simple harmonic motion.
• Discover the connection between pendulums and waves with relation to
simple harmonic motion.

The Teacher Will Be Able To:

• Assess student understanding of pendulums.
• Provide students with connections between different types of simple harmonic
• Demonstrate different ways of explaining waves.

Standards Assessed: New York State Standards in the Physical Setting

Physical Setting Indicator 4.3: Students can explain variations in
wavelength and frequency in terms of the source of the vibrations
that produce them, e.g., molecules, electrons, and nuclear particles.
4.3a An oscillating system produces waves. The nature of the system determines
the type of wave produced.
4.3b Waves carry energy and information without transferring mass. This energy
may be carried by pulses or periodic waves.
4.3c The model of a wave incorporates the characteristics of amplitude,
wavelength,* frequency*, period*, wave speed*, and phase.
4.3dMechanical waves require a material medium through which to travel.
4.3e Waves are categorized by the direction in which particles in a medium
vibrate about an equilibrium position relative to the direction of propagation
of the wave, such as transverse and longitudinal waves.

Misconception(s) Addressed:
• All waves travel the same way.
• Light is one or the other--a particle or a wave--only.
• Light can be a particle at one point in time and a wave at another point in time.
• Particles can't have wave properties.
• Waves can't have particle properties.
• The position of a particle always can be exactly known.
Becky McCoy

Prior Knowledge: Mechanics, Kinematics, Circular Motion, and Pendulum Units

Aim: Describe Simple Harmonic Motion as a Function of Time.

Concept Map Vocabulary: from Light & Optics Concept Map

• Amplitude • Wavelength • Wave Speed
• Crest • Period
• Trough • Frequency

Necessary Preparation:

• Numbered Cards
• Video Camera
• Slinky

Becky McCoy

Lesson Plan

Aim: Describe Simple Harmonic Motion as a Function of Time.

Physics Push-Up: Practice Problems (15 minutes)

As students come in, hand out numbered cards. Most students had goals to participate more, so
try having students answer questions based on which number is picked out of a hat.

Have the Colorado PhET Pendulum Lab simulation on the projector to solve for the following
values. Find the period by running the photogate timer.
• l = 2.0m, m = 1kg, θ = 30degrees
• l = 1.5m, m = 1kg, θ = 30degrees
• l = 1.5m, m = 1kg, θ = 60degrees
• l = 1.5m, m = 2kg, θ = 60degrees
• l = 0.5m, m = 2kg, θ = 60degrees

Activity: Wave Discovery (20 minutes)

• Video camera
• Slinky

Ask students “what they expect a pendulum’s position graph to look like over time. If the initial
position is the maximum, what happens when it swings to the other height?” It is the minimum.

“If the pendulum demonstrates Simple Harmonic Motion, how many times will the max and min

“Does this graph look familiar? How should we connect the dots?” It should look like a sine
Label wave anatomy:
• crest
• trough
• amplitude QuickTimeª and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
• wavelength are needed to see this picture.

• displacement
• velocity
• medium
• period trough
• frequency
Becky McCoy

Define TRANSVERSE WAVE: A wave (energy moving through a medium) where the
displacement of a medium of the particle is perpendicular to the displacement. Light is an
example of a transverse wave.

Define LONGITUDINAL WAVE: A wave (energy moving through a medium) where the
displacement of a medium of the particle is parallel to the displacement. Sound is an
example of a longitudinal wave.

wavelength rarefaction



Use the slinky, to demonstrate a longitudinal wave.


Have students stand up and make a big circle. Students should hold hands and make a big
transverse wave. This is an opportunity to show the displacement is vertical with a horizontal
velocity. Discuss where the amplitude, wavelength, crest, trough, etc. are.

Have students face front to back in the circle. One student should gently push on the one in front
and send a longitudinal wave around the circle. Point out the parts of the wave.

Activity Summary: Think, Pair, Share (5 minutes)

Have students spend some time thinking about what we learned today. Then they should pair up
and share what they learned with partners/table.

Homework: Pendulum Unit Project (10 minutes)

Students are to create a project to demonstrate their knowledge of pendulums. It should
communicate the basics on pendulums (and what they think is most important). Worth one quiz
grade and based on the rubric below (also at

Projects might be:

• Magazine Spread
• Cartoon Strip
• Song lyrics
• Advertisement Recording/Print and Script (radio, newspaper, or TV)
• Short story
• You Tube/Viral Video (must include script)
Becky McCoy

• Informational pamphlet
• Collage or art.
• Any other creative type of media you can think of.

Due next class (Monday, February 22). Students on school trips must submit their project within
two days of returning to school (if your first day back is a Thursday, you must hand it in by
Friday, if your first day is Monday, hand it in by Tuesday, etc.)

NOTE: You may work with friends to brainstorm what you want to include in your project, but
everyone must hand in their own, unique project.

Exit Strategy: What Are You Thinking?

As students leave, they tell you which way they are thinking of presenting the pendulum unit as
they hand in their numbered card.

Extension Activity:
Allow students to spend time brainstorming for their project.

• Student answers to questions and discussions.
• Student answers to practice problems.

Wave Picture:
Light & Optics Concept map:

Notes & Adaptations:

Becky McCoy

Pendulum Unit Project Rubric



Media of Project:

Project Title:

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3

Creativity of Project is completed Project has some Project is interesting

presentation and with little to no aspects of creativity to look at/watch/listen
choice of media creativity and and uniqueness, but to. Presentation is
uniqueness. could be more so in unique, original, and
order to maximize appealing.

Relevant variables, Does not include any Includes some Includes a majority of
vocabulary, and of the relevant relevant variables, the relevant variables,
equations variables, vocabulary, vocabulary, and vocabulary, and
or equations. equations. equations.

Clarity of Communicates some Communicates Communicates clearly

communication aspects of the unit relatively clearly most which aspects of unit
with little clarity, aspects of the unit are most important in
leaving the with some confusing a way that is easy to
reader/viewer aspects. understand.

Accurate use of No mathematical Uses appropriate Uses appropriate

mathematical examples. mathematical mathematical
examples examples with some examples correctly.

Includes everyday No everyday Some everyday Uses several everyday

examples of unit examples. examples, but no clear examples with clear
material. connection to the unit ties to the unit
material. material.