• 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)

    Try to create as little friction as possible where the string is attached to the clamp. 2. Let go with out adding any extra forces. 3. Kept the string taut. 4. Make sure the mass and swing size remain the same in each test in case they have a small effect on the results.

  2. Marked by a teacher

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

    3 star(s)

    For example, the factor that would have distorted my results the greatest was the reaction times of the person who was timing the pendulum, as reaction times could be flawed by around 0.6 seconds per reading at the minimum and yet at a length of 20cm that pendulum should technically

  1. Period of Oscillation of a Simple Pendulum

    Graphs will be drawn to show any patterns that emerge. There are no safety precautions that need to be taken into account in this experiment, only common sense should be observed. Results In the results section, I shall present information in the form of tables and graphs (e.g.

  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.

  1. Find which factors/variables affect a pendulums period (time taken to do one oscillation) and ...

    We can say therefore, that as it is released, the GPE is converted into Kinetic Energy (KE) needed for the pendulum to swing. Once the bob returns to its original point of suspension, the GPE has been totally converted into KE, causing the bob to continue moving past its pivot

  2. Factors that affect the period of a pendulum

    Period of the pendulum (continuous) Diameter of Bob Length of string Angle bob is dropped from Same person dropping bob Same person stopping the stopwatch Height Bob is dropped from Results Table Time of Period (seconds) Type of Bob Trial 1 Trial 2 Trial 3 Trial 4 Ranges Averages (mean)

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

    Release the pendulum, so it starts swinging. Make sure it is swinging in one plane, so from right to left and not on more than one plane, perhaps in circles. If it is, stop the pendulum and do this again. You will need to make sure that when you measure the 10?

  2. Physics Coursework: To investigate the Oscillations of a mass on a spring

    But there is also a distance, which could also affect the time. But I believe as the number of springs goes up and lined up in series, the time for one oscillation will take longer. Because Newton's second law states that F = M x A.

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