Pendulum experiment worksheets  other topics
for use with materialworlds pendulum simulation  
© 2001

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about the simulation...
The simulation includes reference notes and links to external sites that will help students with the worksheets.
It runs in slow motion - at a little over 1/4 speed.
The pendulum cord is slightly stretchy, so changes in gravity and/or pendulum mass will result in slight changes in length.
Shortening the pendulum cord will usually catapult the pendulum bob up as the cord suddenly finds itself significantly stretched.
The size of the pendulum swing can be reduced in a controlled way by increasing the level of friction for a period of time.

pendulum experiment 1 - what things affect the pendulums' swing time?

Investigation of factors influencing pendulum swing period - without necessarily working out exact relationships.
Changing one factor at a time to isolate their separate effects.
Teachers need to give guidance on how the relationship between gravity, length, mass and amplitude - and pendulum period is to be described (questions 3-6):
At the very least this could be vaguely qualitative - indicating the direction of the relationship (if there was one of any significance).
A more quantitative approach could involve recording a table of results to calculate the proportional difference (in pendulum period) made by modifying parameters by factors of 2 and 4 (or even 9 if the starting value of the particulars parameter are reduced to a suitable value). Students could be challenged to find a pattern in these results.

Remember that the pendulum cord is slightly stretchy, so changes in gravity and/or pendulum mass will cause slight changes in length.

Manipulating simulation and controls (gravity, friction, length and mass controls) .
Reading, recording and interpreting numerical data.

pendulum experiment 2 - why does the pendulum swing?

Investigation into how the forces on the pendulum make it swing.
Introduces vector addition of forces to get resultant force (this is performed graphically by the simulation).
Discusses force producing a change in velocity (ie acceleration).

Pausing simulation at points in its swing and sketching force (component and resultant) and velocity vectors.
Explaining how the forces on the pendulum bob arise and how they affect its velocity and hence its position.

pendulum experiment 3 - energy

Investigation into how the kinetic and potential energy of the pendulum change as it swings - both with and without air friction.

Manipulating simulation and controls.
Interpreting KE and PE bars graph (and optionally KE and PE graphs against time).
Correlating bar graph maximum and minimum values with pendulum postions.
Explaining how and why the pendulum's KE and PE change.