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Pendulums and bobbing masses
There's something almost magic about oscillations and we set about trying to study them.  

What we did

We used a turn (or position) sensor connected to the computer and recorded the swings of a pendulum made of a metal rod and a weight. We tried again this time connecting the sensor to a weight on a spring.

diagram of experiment

Our results


This graph compares the oscillations of a weight swinging on a metal rod with a weight bobbing up and down on a spring.

You will find some of the questions easier if you put these results into your data logging software. Click here to get the results, then Open it in your data logging program. 

Looking at the results

  • Describe and compare the shapes of the two graphs.

  • What does this tell you about the nature of the oscillations?

  • How do the amplitude and the frequency of the oscillations vary with time? Why is this?

  • How might this information be useful in designing a clock?

  • What do you notice about the shape of the "envelope" of the oscillations in each case?

  • How might this information be useful in designing a car suspension system?

What you can do

  • Try for yourself: see how the oscillations change when you damp the motion of the mass and spring using a vane, a beaker of water and a beaker of oil.


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