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Experiment to Measure Factors Effecting the Oscillation of a Spring

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Experiment to Measure Factors Effecting the Oscillation of a Spring

The full oscillation of a spring is the time taken for the spring to go from the middle (a) to the top (b), to bottom (c) and back to the middle. This is shown in fig 1. The aim of this is experiment is to find the effect of one measurable factor on an oscillating spring then vary that factor to find how much of an effect it has at different strengths.  First off I must decide what variables could have an effect on the speed of the oscillating spring. From my scientific knowledge and preliminary experiments (The Oscillation of a Pendulum) I decided the two measurable factors were the weight (N) at the bottom of the spring and the amplitude (cm) of the spring. I decided to variegate the weight whilst keeping the amplitude constant. By keeping these rules and measuring the time taken for one oscillation I will be able to find if there is any correlation between the two.


Based on my scientific knowledge of Hookes law

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Fair test

We are ensuring the test is fair by repeating the experiment (as outlined above) so we have the equivalent of 40 individual readings for each weight, thereby almost cutting out all human or equipment error. Also, all readings are taken to the smallest possible range for every piece of equipment: ruler to the nearest mm and stopwatch to the nearest ms, thereby increasing accuracy. The same spring is being used so any difference in spring tightness or durability is eliminated.

The design choices are based on a model experiment demonstrated and information from secondary sources (e.g. textbook). I feel this is the best possible way of testing this theory within classroom restraints.



After processing the raw data (taking the mean of each set of results and dividing by ten to have the period of 1 oscillation) I produced two graphs: One of the period of 1 oscillation and one of the period of one oscillation compared with the period squared and the period divided by 1.  

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The only difficulty encountered whilst taking the results was to measure the 2.5cm slackness of the spring (to provide momentum for the oscillations) for each result. The oscillating spring sometimes caught the ruler that measured the slackness, thereby chaning the properties of the oscillation and making the result useless. We fixed this problem by moving the ruler futhur away when taking the measurement and removing it immediately.

We could improve accuracy by lengthening number of oscillations per result (eg to 100 ocillations per result). However, the accuracy was adequate for our requirments.

Broadening the range of weights (using a spring with a higher elastic limit) would give are bigger outlook and do more to disprove my predictions. Another experiment could be done to see if the other main factor effecting the oscillation of a spring, namely the amplitude of the spring, effected is as much, if at all.


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