Harmonic Motion: Pendulum Lab

Several times throughout history, groups of soldiers marching in rhythm across a suspension bridge have caused it to collapse. Scholars experiment with pendulums, resonance, and force to determine why this would happen. First, pupils determine which variables relate to pendulums. Next, they observe resonance, and finally, they learn to use this concept to solve real-world problems.

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CCSS: Adaptable
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Instructional Ideas
  • Discuss the places pupils have seen pendulums before such as a swing, a grandfather clock, or a seismometer
Classroom Considerations
  • Optional part of the lab uses a computer with Internet access to watch a video
  • Basic version requires basic math; advanced version requires arithmetic, square roots, and plotting of points; and the optional advanced version requires algebraic expressions and dimensional analysis
Pros
  • Provides a standard and an advanced version for differentiation
  • Includes a mini-lecture for each part of the lesson introducing all vocabulary
  • Analysis questions use higher order thinking skills
Cons
  • None