• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Investigate the factors which affect the time period of a simple pendulum.

Extracts from this document...


aim of this coursework

In this coursework I intend to investigate the factors which affect the time period of a simple pendulum.


  A simple pendulum is made up of a small, dense and spherical object called a bob, connected to a thin inextensible wire which is attached to a rigid surface. A diagram of a pendulum is shown below:


When disturbed from its state of rest the pendulum will oscillate about its rest position. For a simple pendulum one complete oscillation is one complete ‘to-and-fro’ motion. There are three types of oscillations:

  • FREE: The body oscillates with no external force acting on it.
  • DAMPED: Oscillation is influenced by the frictional force of the medium.
  • FORCED: Oscillation is influenced by a constant external force.

On earth the pendulum is a damped oscillating body due to air resistance but in my coursework I will ignore this effect and consider the pendulum as a freely oscillating body.

...read more.



forces acting on the pendulum

At rest position, there are two forces acting on the bob: the tension of the string on the bob acting upwards and the weight of the bob acting downwards. At rest position, these two forces act equal and opposite to each other (Newton’s Third Law of Motion) and so the pendulum is at equilibrium i.e. there is no overall change or effect.


However, when disturbed there is a change:


As shown in the diagram, the forces are equal but not opposite. Therefore there is a resultant force acting on the pendulum, which causes it to oscillate. In order to understand how the resultant force is brought about, I will resolve the force exerted by the weight of the bob into its components.

  A force acting in one direction can be resolved into two mutually perpendicular components.

...read more.


  However, when it does reach the rest position the bob will not stop. Instead it will continue to ‘swing’ to the other side. This is because of inertia – the reluctance of a body to stop moving while it is in motion. It will continue to move to the other side and the process repeats, causing the pendulum to oscillate.

energy changes taking place during oscillation


At the rest position R the bob is at its minimum height from the ground. When the pendulum oscillates the height varies at different points. In the diagram A and B are at maximum height considering the height from position R as a reference. Since gravitational potential energy also depends on height, the pendulum gains maximum gravitational potential energy at positions A and B.

  The gravitational potential energy is the product of the mass of the bob by the gravitational field strength of earth by the height of center of the bob from the reference level i.e. its height from the center of the bob during rest position.

...read more.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Forces and Motion section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Forces and Motion essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The purpose of this experiment is to see what factors affect the period of ...

    4 star(s)

    60 40 16 60 40 16 50 40 15 50 40 15 40 40 13.5 40 40 13.5 30 40 12 30 40 12 20 40 10 20 40 10 10 40 8 10 40 8 I can see from the results that there is one clear factor, length and swing size again.

  2. Marked by a teacher

    Which factors affect the time period of the swing of a pendulum?

    3 star(s)

    My actual result for that length of pendulum was 9.28 seconds which is very close to the prediction hence, my results have numerically confirmed my initial prediction. My graph also shows me that as the length of the pendulum increases the time period of that pendulum increases but at an increasing rate.

  1. Peer reviewed

    length of a simple pendulum affects the time

    4 star(s)

    Unlike a ramp the arc of swing is not a straight line. The arc has the steepest gradient at the top and is flat when it reaches the middle. The acceleration of the bob will thus decrease from a maximum at the top of the swing to zero at the centre.

  2. Peer reviewed

    Factors Influencing Resistance of a Wire

    3 star(s)

    To investigate I would, ideally, need many different types of wire e.g. copper, aluminium, but as results from these cannot easily be displayed in a line graph a bar chart would be required. Also I wouldn't be able to explain the results as I do not know enough about each of the different types of wires' atomic structure.

  1. Period of Oscillation of a Simple Pendulum

    They scored a difference of -0.027 and -0.039 respectively. However, the results were pretty accurate, considering the results were only a few split seconds off being absolutely correct. In fact one result, 40 cm had a result where the theoretical answer was achieved.

  2. To investigate the time taken for the pendulum to oscillate for a time period.

    * Length of string - Length of string is a big factor regarding the affect of the rate at which a pendulum swings. Basically the smaller the length the faster the rate because the pendulum has a smaller distance to travel.


    =0.635 * I did not have to change my experiment as I found it work well but there are some slight problems with my results in the length of 10cm and 55cm and order to explain them I need to introduce some new terms.

  2. The determination of the acceleration due to gravity at the surface of the earth, ...

    6. Now attach the 180? protractor (using blue tack) to the wooden blocks. The 90? mark on the protractor should be lined up with the vertical hanging pendulum string. Attach so that the protractor is not interfering with the pendulum string, but when standing in parallel to the protractor you can read the angle the string is hanging at to be 90?.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work