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Investigating the relationship between the mass and time period in a spring-mass system

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Investigating the relationship between the mass and time period in a spring-mass system


  • The aim of the experiment

The aim of the experiment is to investigate how the period of oscillation varies with the mass in a spring-mass system.

  • List of the apparatus to be used
  • Retort stand with clamps
  • Spring
  • Weights hanger
  • A range of 50g and 100g  weights (eg. 7 x 100g +1 x 50g)
  • Stop clock +/- 0.01s
  • Metre Ruler (0-100 cm)  +/- 0.1 cm
  • Setsquare
  • Electronic balance  +/- 0.01 g  (may be of higher accuracy, but it’s not necessary)
  • Pointer (e.g. a pen)image00.png
  • The Diagram

  • Method

During my experiment I will:

  1. Set up apparatus as shown in the diagram (except the weights)
  2. Make sure that everything is safe, e.g. spring is over the base of a stand.
  3. Make a test to check how much the weights must be pushed up to make them oscillate the right amount (look devised equipment). Right the value above the table of results. Measure the length of the spring.
  4. Weigh a weight hanger and record its weight above the table
  5. Weigh a 50g weight and record an actual weight in a table.
  6. Add the weight of the weight and a hanger. Record.
  7. Change to kg (: 1000). Record. Square root it. Record.
  8. Gently put a weight hanger (with the weight on) onto the spring – hang it at the end.
  9. Wait for it to settle.
...read more.


Time for n oscillations

Number of oscillations

Time for 1 oscillation

Mean time for 1 oscillation


m / g

m /kg

m/√ kg

T(n) / s



TM(1) /s

50g weight on the weight hanger

100g weight on the weight hanger

200g weights on the weight hanger

300g weights on the weight hanger

350g weights on the weight hanger

400g weights on the weight hanger

450g weights on the weight hanger

500g weights on the weight hanger

550g weights on the weight hanger

600g weights on the weight hanger






The mass of the weight hanger: ……99.54g………….

The height which weights are pushed up before “launch”:……2cm……

Weighed mass

mw + mass of the weight hanger


Time for n oscillations

Number of oscillations

Time for 1 oscillation

...read more.


Using a setsquare was a really good idea, because when I was taking the setsquare away, the weights were just bouncing up and down, whereas when I tried to “start” the oscillations just with my hand the weights were not moving vertically, but  bouncing a lot to the sides (sometimes colliding with the pointer too).


I think that the biggest error may have been encountered when counting the oscillations (because they were too quick or so slow that I wasn’t sure how many have already gone). I can be certain that the “reaction time error “also made my results imprecise.


I estimated the reaction time error for 0.05s.

 If I have miscounted the number of oscillations and I got for example 10.5s for 20 oscillations (0.535s for 1 oscillation) when really there were 21 oscillations timed, then time for one oscillation really was: 0.5s it gives an error between ±0.025s (for short time periods) and about ±0.05s (for longer time periods – bigger masses). It gives a total error of ±0.075s – ±0.1s.

Joanna Meldner               PHYSICS - As Practical Assessment        Page         

...read more.

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