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Investigating Factors Which Affect The Period Time Of A Simple Pendulum

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Investigating Factors Which Affect The Period Time Of A Simple Pendulum


Definitions: Oscillation: Repeated motion of pendulum (to and for)
Period (T): Time taken for one full oscillation

In this investigation, I am going to experimentally determine a factor which
will affect the period of a simple pendulum and the mathematical relationship
of this factor. This type of pendulum will consist of a mass hanging on a length
of string.

Factors, which affect the period (T) of a pendulum:
- Length (L) of pendulum
- Angle of amplitude
- Gravitational field strength (g)
- Mass of bob

I predict that the period will be affected by the length of the pendulum. An
increase in length will produce an increase in time. I based by prediction on
the scientific theory I found in a physics textbook:

The pendulum is able to work when the bob is raised to an angle larger than
the point at which it is vertically suspended at rest. By raising the bob, the
pendulum gains Gravitation Potential Energy or GPE, as in being raised, it is
held above this point of natural suspension and so therefore is acting against
the natural gravitational force. Once the bob is released, this gravitational
force is able to act on it, thus moving it downwards towards its original
hanging point. We can say therefore, that as it is released, the GPE is
converted into Kinetic Energy (KE) needed for the pendulum to swing. Once

...read more.


 A mass of 50g will be attached securely to the end of the string
The mass will be held to one side at an angle of 45 degrees (measured
with a protractor), and then released.
A stop watch will be used to time taken for one full oscillation
This will be repeated a number of times, each time shortening the
length of string by 10cm
The length of the pendulum will be plotted against the period on a

NB. The final length of string and mass will be decided after my preliminary


  • Meter ruler
  • Protractor
  • Clamp stand
  • Clamp
  • Stop watch
  • String
  • Mass


The following factors will be considered when providing a fair test:
The mass will be a constant of 50g throughout the experiment

  • Angle of amplitude shall be a constant of 45 degrees. This will ensure
    that there is no variation of the forces acting on the pendulum.
  •  The value of gravitational field strength will inevitably remain constant,
    helping me to provide a fair test.
  •  The intervals between the string lengths will increase by 10cm each
    time. This will help me to identify a clear pattern in my results.
  •   If any anomalous results are identified, readings will be repeated. This
    will ensure that all readings are sufficiently accurate.
  • To ensure that the velocity is not affected, I will ensure that there are no
    obstructions to the swing of the pendulum.

    The following factors will be considered when providing a safe test:
...read more.


formula results and, therefore, quite reliable. Had there been any anomalous
results, I would have repeated my readings.

Factors which may have affected the accuracy of my results include:
- Error in measurement of angle of altitude. This angle proved difficult to
measure and it was hard to get the exact same angle for each result. To
improve the accuracy of this measurement, I could have attached the
protractor to the clamp stand so that it was in a fixed position.
- Error in measurement of string. To improve the accuracy of this, I
could have marked off the points with a pen to ensure they were as
accurately measured as possible.
- Human reaction time. Depending on human reaction time, the
measurement period time could have been measured inaccurately, due
to slow reactions when setting the stopwatch etc. This could have been
improved by involving another person to aid me with my experiment,
for a quicker reaction time.

The procedure was relatively reliable, excluding human error, and so I can
conclude that my evidence is sufficient to support a firm conclusion that:

The only factor which affects the period of a simple pendulum is its
length. As the length increases, so does the period.

If I were to extend my investigation, I would investigate to provide additional
evidence to back up my conclusion, for example, changing the mass or angle
of altitude. The results gained would hopefully aid me further in supporting
my Scientific Theory. It would also be interesting to investigate how the
factors are affected when the Gravitational Field Strength is different, i.e.. not
9.8 Newton’s.image00.png

...read more.

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