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The Simple Pendulum Experiment

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The Simple Pendulum Coursework                Page  of

The Simple Pendulum Experiment

General Plan

The first thing I am going to do is outline a general plan for this experiment.

In this experiment, I am going to be measuring the effect of two variables on the time of one oscillation of a simple pendulum.

The two variables that I have chosen are the length of the pendulum’s string and the mass of the pendulum’s bob.

I will vary these two items and record results for the time of one oscillation of a pendulum with different mass/length of string.

I must also be able to determine the value for acceleration due to gravity (hereby referred to as g)

To do this, I must be able to find some equation that links length of a string of a pendulum or the mass of a pendulum’s bob with time. For this I will need to carry out research.


        The aim of this experiment is to determine the effects of two factorson the time of one oscillation (or swing) of the simple pendulum, and also to determine a value for g (acceleration due to gravity)


        Before producing a plan I will conduct a preliminary experiment this will help me find and basic flaws in the set-up of my experiment, and will also allow me to find room for improvement on my actual experiment.

...read more.


Once I have obtained my results, I will then process these using the equation (as stated above)


To find the time of one oscillation of the pendulum (for each length of string).

Once I have obtained my results, I will plot a graph of the time of one oscillation against the length of the string, to help me observe the effect that modifying the length of the pendulum’s string has on the time of oscillation of the pendulum.

Apparatus Set-up

Figure 3: Apparatus Set-up

Apparatus List

  • Metre Rule (accurate to within ±0.0005m, ranges from 0m – 1m)
  • Top Pan Balance (accurate to within ±0.005g, ranges from 1000g-1500g)
  • Digital Chronometer (accurate to within ±0.005s, ranges from 0s to 600s)
  • Clamp Stand
  • G-Clamp
  • Plasticine
  • Stool
  • Workbench/Table
  • Reaction time ruler
  • Simple Pendulum

Mass Experiment.

The set-up of this experiment is shown on page 7. As before, the pendulum is held in place by a clamp stand, which is secured to a stool by G-Clamp. The stool is placed on a table/workbench.

The length of the pendulum’s string is kept constant during this experiment

The mass of the pendulum is variable for this experiment

I will use a ruler (accurate to ±0.0005m) to make sure the length of the pendulum’s string for this experiment is 1m. I have chosen this length, as it is very easy to set-up with a 1m rule.

I will then measure and record the mass of the pendulum’s bob using the top-pan balance (accurate to ±0.005g).

...read more.


I could also use data logging, positioning a light gate at the centre of the pendulum’s swing, which would be linked to a computer, which would time the oscillation, and could also count the number of oscillations.

I found there were a few stray results in my implementation of this experiment. I found 2 slightly low results (those of 35g and 36g) for my mass experiment, and also found that my T2 against time graph was not a straight line (as it should have been), which made my calculation of g inaccurate and awkward to do.

Overall, this experiment would only have ever shown an approximate value for g, as for sake of easiness, a lot of the lengths and masses were rounded to the nearest cm/half gram. This may account for some stray results.

The techniques that I have used for this experiment, for example the reaction time ruler, are not based on general scientific practice, however, given the equipment available to me, and for the purpose of this coursework, the techniques used are suited well to this experiment.


My results show that the mass of the pendulum’s bob has no effect on the time of one oscillation of the pendulum

My results also show that as the length of the pendulum’s string increases, so does the time of oscillation.

I have determined a value for g as 9.18 ms-2 (3s.f.) ± 0.32 (difference in gradients)

The accepted value for g is 9.8 ms-2. My determined value may have been closer if the experiment was operated under stricter conditions

Centre Number: 20077                Candidate Number 6200

Dame Elizabeth Cadbury Technology College        Martin Meredith

...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

This is a report that includes a good amount of detail, however it is unfocused.
1. Concentrate on one main investigation.
2. Include a introduction section that gives background knowledge.
3. Always use a table for data.
4. Use data and attempt to explain the patterns, or lack of, in the data.
5. Suggest further investigations.

Marked by teacher Luke Smithen 16/07/2013

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