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# Unit 3 Physics

SAC 1
Extended Practical Investigation Period of a pendulum

## Oscar Han 12E

Introduction: The following terms, principles and concepts (as defined by Heinemann
physics 12, 2008) refer to my investigation and will be discussed in this report.
Air resistance: Also known as drag, acts whenever a solid or liquid has to travel
through air.
Amplitude: The maximum absolute value of a periodically varying quantity such as a
transverse or longitudinal wave.
Frequency: The number of waves passing a given point in one second. Measured in
Hertz (Hz) or cycles per second.
Friction: The force resisting the relative motion of materials sliding against each other.
Gravity: Force of attraction between two objects. The value of g on earth is 9.81 m s.
Gravitational Potential Energy: Energy that can be considered to be stored in a body
due to its position in a gravitational field. A scalar quantity that is measured in joules
(J).
Kinetic energy: The energy of motion.
Law of conservation of energy: The la w of conversation of energy states that energy is
transformed from one form to another, and that the total amount of energy in its
various forms remains constant.
Transverse wave: A wave in which the vibration is moving perpendicularly to the
direction of wave propagation.
Wavelength: The distance between two identical points on neighbouring waves.
Aim:
1. Determine the factors which control the time a pendulum takes to make one
complete s wing, that is, one period.
2. Examine the changes in energy of the moving pendulum.
3. Find the value of gravity on Earth (g) using

Hypothesis:
As the width of the s wing changes, the period stay the same .
As the mass changes, the period will decrease .
As the length of the string changes, the period will stay the same .
Materials:
Retort stand, boss and clamp: pendulum will be attached to this apparatus
String: to be connected to retort stand and mass, creating a pendulum
33g and 66g masses to be attached to string
Scissors: to cut accurate lengths of string
Stopwatch: to time movement of pendulum
Metre ruler: to measure lengths of string and width of swings
Variables:

- Fixed:

## Air resistance (negligible in classroom conditions)

Type of string used to fix pendulum to retort stand: depending on the type of string
used, different frictional forces will act on the pendulum, causing different amounts
of retardation; however these forces are negligible in the classroom conditions of the
experiment

- Varied:

## Masses: 33g/ 69g

Length of string: 40cm/ 80cm
Width of swing of pendulum: 20cm/ 40cm
Reaction time of person timing the movement of the pendulum

Procedure:

- Method:

1. A piece of string was tied to a 33g mass and suspended so that the total length of the
pendulum was 80cm.
2. The swing width of the pendulum was first set at 20cm.
3. The pendulum was timed for 10 swings (1 swing being back and forth once) using a
stopwatch.
4. Steps 1-3 were repeated, varying the masses, the length of the pendulum, and the
width of s wings.

- Precautions:

The same type of string was used throughout the experiment to ensure that frictional
forces remained the same.
Only one person timed the movement of the pendulum throughout the experiment to
minimise errors caused by varying reaction times between different people.
For each mass, length of string and width of s wing, 3 times were taken, and an
average used to create more accurate data.
The only safety measure was to check that the pendulum was securely tied to the
retort stand.

Diagram:

Difference
between
highest
and lowest
points of
motion

String
Mass

Swing

## Oscar Han 12E

Results:

33g
Mass
Standar d
80cm string
(pendulum
length)
20cm swing
(width of
swing)
Change in
width of
swing
80cm string
40cm s wing
40cm string
20cm swing
40cm string
40 cm swing

69g
Mass
Standar d
80cm string
(pendulum
length)
20cm swing
(width of
swing)
Change in
width of
swing
80cm string
40cm s wing
40cm string
20cm swing
40cm string
40 cm swing

Trial 1
Time (secs)
for 10
swings
18.38

Trial 2
Time (secs)
for 10
swings
17.88

Trial 3
Time (secs)
for 10
swings
18.12

Trial 1
Time (secs)
for 1 swing

Trial 2
Time (secs)
for 1 swing

Trial 3
Time (secs)
for 1 swing

AVERAGE
Time (secs)
for 1 swing

1.838

1.788

1.812

1.813

18.24

18.24

18.24

1.824

1.824

1.824

1.824

13.00

13.38

13.24

1.300

1.338

1.324

1.321

14.24

14.38

14.50

1.424

1.438

1.450

1.437

Trial 1
Time (secs)
for 10
swings
18.12

Trial 2
Time (secs)
for 10
swings
18.12

Trial 3
Time (secs)
for 10
swings
17.88

Trial 1
Time (secs)
for 1 swing

Trial 2
Time (secs)
for 1 swing

Trial 3
Time (secs)
for 1 swing

AVERAGE
Time (secs)
for 1 swing

1.812

1.812

1.788

1.804

18.24

18.00

18.38

1.824

1.800

1.838

1.820

13.38

13.24

13.38

1.338

1.324

1.338

1.332

14.00

14.00

13.88

1.400

1.400

1.388

1.396

Graphs: A sinusoidal graph results when a displacment-time graph is drawn for the
movement of a pendulum. The displacement of each swing becomes smaller and smaller each
time by a small amount, due to kinetic energy being converted into other forms such as heat
and sound energy.

Displacement (m)

## Velocity is zero, KE=0, PE

reaches a maximum value

Velocity is approximately
, PE=0, KE
reaches a maximum value

Time (s)

## Oscar Han 12E

Discussion: From these results, it is evident that only the length of the string used to secure
the mass to the retort stand, affects the period of the pendulum, and thus its frequency.
1. The timing of the pendulum s wings was done for 10 swings instead of 1, in order to
get an aver aged result, thus minimising random errors.
2. The Law of Conservation of Energy can be observed in this experiment. Although the
pendulum eventually reached a velocity of zero, and seemed to have lost energy, the
kinetic energy of the pendulum was actually transformed into other forms of energy
such as sound energy and heat energy.
3. Observing the movement of the 33g, 80cm pendulum (standard 1), it can be seen that
the gravitational potential energy at the highest point of motion (2.540cm) was
0.008J:

## Since gravitational potential is given by

, as h reaches a maximum value
(2.540cm), gravitational potential energy reaches a maximum. Conversely, as h
decreases, gravitational potential energy approaches zero.
At the pendulums lowest point of motion (0cm), the potential energy has been
converted to kinetic energy ( with some energy converted to heat and sound).
Knowing that the loss in potential energy of the pendulum is a little greater than the
gain in kinetic energy, the velocity of the pendulum at its lowest point of motion can
be found.

Since the velocity of the pendulum is zero at its highest point of motion (2.540cm),
kinetic energy, given by
, is zero. However, as the pendulum reaches its
maximum velocity at the lowest point of motion (0cm), kinetic energy is also at its
greatest.
4. Using the formula

## , the tabulated results can be used to find an approximate

value of g.
Using the results of the 33g mass standard and 69g mass standard respectively,

## Oscar Han 12E

Averaging these two figures gives a value of 9.66m s, close to the actual value of g, 9.81m s.
This difference in the calculated value of g and the actual value of g (0.15m s difference)
would be due mainly due to the fact that we averaged our results, causing inherent error.
Human error in measuring the lengths of string and the width of s wings could have also
played a minor role. As previously mentioned, the effects of air resistance and friction were
not only negligible, but were also fixed variables, causing systematic variation of results. The
effects of friction on the collected data can therefore be disregarded.
Further calculations can be made, using

## , to calculate what the period of the

pendulum should have ideally been, given that the value of g on earth is 9.81 m s. The ideal
period of the 33g mass standard and 69 mass standard respectively are calculated below:

The average of the two above actual recorded times was found to be 1.809s. This value is only
0.015 seconds higher than the ideal value of 1.794 seconds, implying that the experiment was
performed accurately. This discrepancy is also due to error caused by averaging our results
from 10 swings; there were no calculation to account for the period (in seconds) of the
pendulum becoming smaller and smaller after each swing. Rather, a single period value was
substituted into
, causing a slightly inaccurate result. To be more specific, the
period of the pendulum became smaller and smaller after each swing. Observing the formula
, the value of g becomes larger as T (the period) becomes smaller. Since only the
largest single period value of the 10 s wings conducted was taken, calculating g using
would give a smaller than ideal value.
Conclusion: Contrary to my hypothesis, only the length of the string used affected the
period of the pendulum. A shorter length of string resulted in a shorter period. The length of
the pendulum and the width of its swing did not affect the period of the pendulum. The
design of the experiment was relatively simple, and was not prone to great error. Accurate
measurements of string lengths and swing widths were not difficult, and human error was
reduced by taking the averages of results.

## Oscar Han 12E

Evaluation:
Firstly, the experiment could be repeated, accurate measurements of lengths and widths
taken, and times taken. This way, more accurate averaged results could be taken, and the
effect of errors minimised.
Secondly, a wider range of masses, string lengths and swing widths could have been used,
thus making sure that the effects of all variables are known.
Thirdly, different types of string could be experimented with and oil could even be applied
between the retort stand and the pendulum string to minimise friction. Furthermore, a
camera and background measurement scale could have been used for extremely accurate
measurements of both s wing widths and period times.
Most importantly, fewer swings of the pendulum should be conducted, in order to calculate
a more accurate value of g. Rather than conducting the recommended 10 s wings, conducting
in only 2 or 3 swings would allow a more accurate calculation of g.
Given the time restrictions in which this experiment was performed, the data collected was
reasonably accurate. Employing such improvements as those above would only increase the
accuracy of results.

## Oscar Han 12E

Bibliogr aphy:
Chapman, R, Burrows, K, Fry, C, Bail, D, Mazzolini, A, Devlin, J, Gersh, H 2008, Heinemann
physics 12, Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd