Garg 1 Rishi Garg Pre-Calculus, 5th Period Mrs.

Beck 4 June 2008

Pit and Pendulum Journal

5/9 • • • • •

Pendulum is suspended above man (Steve) Is descending at a steady rate 12 swings will kill Steve One minute to escape Unit Question: How long will it take for the pendulum to swing 12 times?

This doesn’t seem like a very tough question to answer… but I’m sure that we’ll end up doing a lot of measurements and comparing our different results. Also, I wonder: why is Steve in this situation?


Homework 3

When we were setting up the experiment to determine what affects the pendulum’s period, we had problems: • • • Consistency Materials Timing

I realized today that it is impossible to get perfect results in an experiment. There is always room for error, like in our experiment today. Humans can’t time instances consistently; there will always be a slight difference. However, we can alter the procedure to make less room for error.

To fix these problems, we could have: • • Made a clearer, more precise procedure Had string that didn’t stretch

Garg 2 • Had the same person timing the whole experiment Measurement variation is the concept I was describing in the last entry. It’s a very unfortunate thing but it’s inevitable. However, we can predict the range of variations using a bell curve or normal distribution. This distribution is really useful because it applies naturally to most times when something is being measured.


Measurement variation happens in all experiments; it’s impossible to get exactly consistent results every time. The results of most statistics fit a normal distribution, and are in the shape of a bell curve. This curve has the fewest, most extreme results on the ends, and the average (mean) of the results in the middle.


There are two types of normal distribution: • • Many instances across a population Same instance, but many measurements

Categorical data is data that has been grouped into categories that are not numerical. This type of grouping does not fit a normal distribution. 5/16 The symbol for the mean of a set of numbers is x. It is pronounced: “x-bar”. The symbol for a data item is xi. To find the spread of a set of numbers, we can use the mean absolute deviation: t=1nx-xin

Unfortunately for us, we can never get a perfectly normally distributed set of data. When we measure many instances across a population, we get even less accurate data, because we might be leaving some extreme cases out. I think it’s safer to measure the same instance many times.

This was a lot of information. I tried a variety of different methods to find the spread of a data set, and I think standard deviation is the best one. It’s good because it uses the distance of each data item from the mean. In this way, each data item is inspected as an

Garg 3 Basically, we have to subtract each data item from the mean of the set, and find the mean of these differences. To ensure that the differences are all positive, we use the standard deviation, which is symbolized by σ (sigma): t=1nx-xi2n This is very similar to the mean absolute deviation, except that we square each of the differences, and finally take the square root at the end. 5/20 The standard deviation measures the spread of the data. If the data is normally distributed: • 68% of results are within 1 standard deviation from the mean 95% of results are within 2 standard deviations from the mean individual, then the results are combined to show the spread as a whole. Mean absolute deviation isn’t as good as standard deviation because it can include negative numbers, which will mess up the end result. We might even get zero as a mean absolute deviation, and that wouldn’t help us very much. Standard deviation uses all positive numbers, so we can even compare σ of one data set to that of another.

If we take many measurements of the pendulum’s period, they will most likely fit a normal distribution. 5/27 Although the standard deviation is good to use if we are measuring something that is contained within our sample, it won’t work if we are measuring something that is all over the world. To make sure we account

This is very good information to know, even in the future. Using this, we can determine what is “normal” and what is not. For example, we had that problem about the uncle’s penny, and we couldn’t agree on whether it was counterfeit or not. We can calculate the standard deviation of the set of pennies, then see how many σ away from the mean the uncle’s penny is. If it’s more than 2σ away, we can be fairly sure it is counterfeit. This logic can be applied to many other situations. This is like what I was saying in one of the earlier entries. If we measure one instance across a population, we might miss some extreme cases, and thereby draw inaccurate conclusions. It makes sense to make the

Garg 4 for possible extreme cases outside of our measurements, we use the sample standard deviation, symbolized by S: t=1nx-xi2n-1 This is very similar to regular standard deviation, which can also be called population standard deviation. The only difference is that we divide by one less than the number of data items, thereby creating a slightly larger deviation. standard deviation slightly larger in order to account for extreme cases. I suppose we can use population standard deviation in experiments where our sample is the entire population, and we can use sample standard deviation in experiments where our sample is not the entire population. I wonder, however, just how much more accurate is sample standard deviation than population standard deviation? Why do we only subtract one from the number of data items? What if there are very extreme cases? I think this experiment is much better planned than the first experiment we conducted. We now know about measurement variation, and we tried to lessen the chances for human error this time. We tried to keep the standard pendulum consistent throughout the three groups that we had, so that we would get the same results. We also did a large number of trials, so that we could get more accurate data.


The standard pendulum for the unit has the following specifications: • • • String is 2 feet long Amplitude is 20° Bob consists of one washer

In order to measure the period of the standard pendulum, we need to make sure we do the following things: • • • 5/31 Tie washer, then cut string Use a static (non-moving) base Do 30 trials

Homework 18

My group experimented with

I think that weight definitely does not affect the period of a pendulum’s swing. We learned in Physics that gravity is doing

Garg 5 changing the weight of the standard pendulum. Whereas the standard pendulum has one washer, we had five washers on our pendulum. We did about 15 trials of timing 12 periods of the pendulum swinging. The Normality Assumption states that if you make many measurements of the period of any given pendulum, the data will closely fit a normal distribution, or bell curve. The standard deviation of our set of data was very small; it was around 0.17. It is very close to the standard deviation of the pendulum with only one washer. This means that most of the data items are not much larger or smaller than the mean period, meaning that weight does not affect the period of a pendulum. There were two people in my group: Conor and me. I’d give both of us an A grade, because we made constructive suggestions, listened to each other, stayed on task, and reached a common conclusion. Although we had occasional arguments, we settled the disputes and eventually agreed with each other. 6/3 I think that there are only a few more steps to do in order to Finding the relationship will be the hardest part at this point. I all of the work of swinging the pendulum, so the weight is negligible. Although my group didn’t change other variables, I’m fairly sure that amplitude doesn’t matter either. The only factor that matters is the length of the string. I know this because the group that changed the length had a much different mean than that of the standard pendulum. Conor and I worked really well together. I think that the arguments that we had helped to further our investigation, because we ended up refining a lot of our procedure. We split up the work equally, and we talked a lot together about the results of our experimentation.

Garg 6 solve the unit problem. Here is the question once again: How long will it take for the pendulum to swing 12 times? In order to answer this question, we need to measure the period of the pendulum with many different lengths of string. Since we already did this, we just need to use that data to determine a relationship and predict the period at a length of 30 feet. think I can just put all the data into my calculator and use the technology to find some different types of equations: linear, exponential, power, etc. Once I have found the right type of relationship, predicting the period at 30 feet will be easy; all I have to do is plug 30 into the equation. Finally, we’ll need to measure a real 30-foot-long pendulum to see how accurate our prediction is.

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