You are on page 1of 6

Experiment 4

Title: Experiment with a spiral spring (Oscillation)

1. To show how the time of interval oscillation depends on the load.
2. To determine the spring constant.
3. To determine the effective mass of the spring.

Spring is an elastic object that able to store mechanical energy. A spring is able to store elastic
potential energy. Spring has the property of elastic. When it is stretching, the molecule of the
spring will be moving slightly further apart while elasticity is the ability of an elastic material to
return to its original dimensions, shape, size or length when a load or stress is removed from the

By the properties of the spring, we can study the periodic motion. Periodic motion is an object
repeats a pattern of movement over regular period of time. Such motion is common in nature for
example the beat of a butterfly's wing, the rhythmic fluctuations in blood pressure as your
heartbeats and more.

Simple harmonic motion is one of the periodic motions. Simple harmonic motion is the simplest
mechanical oscillation system which is the motion that results when an object is subject to
oscillation system which is the motion that results when an object is subject to a restoring force
proportional to its displacement from equilibrium. The simple harmonic motion can be explained
by a simple harmonic oscillator which the one end of a spring is attached with a mass.

The mass is pulled down from the equilibrium position to a certain position and release. This
pulling action will produce a restoring force in the system which tends to restore its equilibrium
position. As the result, when the pulling force is removed, it accelerates and starts to go back to
its equilibrium position.
Apparatus & Materials:

Spiral spring, stands and clamps, slotted masses and hanger, stopwatch.


1. The spring was suspended from a firm support and it was loaded, by means of slotted masses
attached to the free lower end.
2. The time taken by the suspended load to execute 20 complete vertical oscillations was
3. The timing for two times was repeated to get the mean time of the oscillations.
4. The load of 50g was increased and repeated for 20 oscillations.
5. The experiment was continued until the times for five different loads had been taken.
6. The reading was recorded down and the result was tabulated.

Time for 1 oscillation

Load Time for 20 oscillations T2/s2
(period time) T/s
m/g m/kg t1/s t2/s t3/s Mean t/s
50 0.05 7.12 7.06 7.22 7.13 0.36 0.13
100 0.10 8.87 8.85 8.65 8.79 0.44 0.19
150 0.15 11.25 11.16 11.19 11.20 0.56 0.31
200 0.20 12.66 12.78 12.78 12.74 0.64 0.41
250 0.25 13.59 13.75 13.69 13.68 0.68 0.47
Based on the experiment that we carried, we can know that spring constant is related to Hookes
Law, the time of vertical oscillation depends on the load and the effective mass of spring. During
the experiment, 50g load is attached to the lower end of spring and the spring is pulled vertically
down 2cm ( l from the equilibrium position ( 0 ) and let go the pulling force to create a
l 0 l l 0
vertical oscillation. One complete oscillation is from position . Then, time taken by
the suspended load to execute 20 complete vertical oscillations is measured. This experiment is
repeated 3 times for each different load (50g, 100g, 150g, 200g, and 250g) that is t1, t2 and t3. The
mean time for 20 oscillations for each load is calculated by
t 1+ t 2 + t 3
mean, t =

Then, time for one oscillation (period) for each load is calculated by
mean, t
Period , T =

To plot the graph of T2/s2 against mass/kg, T2 is calculated. All the calculated values above are
tabulated. Then, gradient under the graph is calculated.

From the graph:

( 0.410.05 ) s2
Gradient, m =
( 0.200.02 ) kg

= 2s2 kg-1

Y-intercept = 0.01s2

Y=mx + C

Y=2 x+ 0.01 ( 1 )

Let the force constant of the spring, i.e. the force to produce unit extension, be k. Consider the
spring in equilibrium under a load m. If, now, the spring is pulled down a further down a further
distance x, the extra restoring force called into play is, by Hooke's Law, equal to kx. When the
spring is released, the equation of motion is therefore

kx=m x
Where x represent the acceleration towards the equilibrium position

x = x

Hence the motion is simple harmonic and the periodic time T is

T =2
m 2 42
T = m

Thus, the graph of T2 against the straight line.

At first sight it would appear that this straight line ought to go through the origin, whereas the
actual line obtained in the experiment does not. This is because the effective mass (mo) of the
spring has been neglected and the above equation ought to be written

4 2
T 2= ( m+ m0 )

4 2 4 2
T 2= m+ m0 (2)
k k

Equation (1) compare with Equation (2):

4 2

2 4 2
2 s kg =

4 2
k = 2 1
2 s kg

k =19.74 kg s2
C= m0

2 4 2
0.01 s = 2
19.47 kg s

m0=0.005 k g

During the experiment, the error that occurred during the experiment which probably was
parallax error. Parallax error occurred due to the eyes were not perpendicular when counting the
l l l0
vertical oscillation of spring from position 0 and this caused the reading became not
accurate. To overcome this, the experiment is repeated for 3 times each of the loads to get the
mean time for 20 oscillations. Besides, damping will occurs during the spring vertical
oscillations due to energy loss to the surrounding such as air resistant.


The objective of this experiment had been achieved by using different loads on the on the spring
to determine the spring constant and the effective mass of the spring. By using the readings
obtained, a graph of square of time for 1 oscillation (T/ s) against mass of the loads (kg) was
drawn. From the graph that we drawn, we knew that gradient under the graph is 2s2 kg-1. Then,
by using formula, the spring constant, k calculated is 19.74 kg s and the effective mass,
m0=0.005 k g


1. Randall D. Knight (1995). Physics A Contemporary Perspective Volume One. Addison-Wesley

Publishing Company. pg432-435.
2. Richard Wolfs & Jay M. Pasad (1995). Physics with Morden Physics. 2nd ed. HarperCollins
College Publishers. pg350-351.

3. Patrick Fullick (1994). Advanced Science Physics. Heinemann Educational Publishers. pg94-

4. Advanced Instructional Systems, Inc. and North Carolina State University. (2010). Simple
Harmonic Motion.

5. The Physics Classroom. (1996-2014). Properties of Periodic Motion.

6. Encyclopdia Britannica, Inc.. (2014). Simple Harmonic Motion.