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What factors affect the period (time for each complete swing) of a pendulum?

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Investigation: Period of a pendulum

Task: what factors affect the period (time for each complete swing) of a pendulum?


In this investigation I am going to find out as many factors, which will affect the period of a simple pendulum. I will then test each factor, so I will be able to conclude with the correct factor at the end of my investigation. This type of pendulum will consist of a mass hanging on a length of string.


An oscillation is one cycle of the pendulums motion, for example, from position y to x and back to y. The period of oscillation is the time required for the pendulum to complete one cycle of its motion. A simple pendulum is a mass suspended from a fixed point and allowed to swing freely.

The following are the factors that I think will affect the period of a pendulum:

1) Length of pendulum- this is from the distance between the end of the cork and the end of the mass.
As the pendulum gets longer the time increases.
2) Mass-the weight will be measured in g, the heavier the mass, the slower it travels, because of the pull of gravity.
3) Angle of amplitude- the angle between the point from where it starts it swing, to the distance from where the swing ends, the point at which kinetic energy is the only force making the mass move and not gravitational potential energy.

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I recorded my results at the back of my exercise book. I listed each colum required and made sure each result was clearly written as then I would find it easier to write my results in neat. My group all decided that we would re-record if there were a result that was usual.


On Results Table. On the results table, I have marked two numbers in pink, these two numbers are the numbers which I will find the average with, as they’re the closet.

After finding the

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Some of the results were not accurate, this could have been due to human error. Had there been any strange number of results, I would have repeated my results. However I felt there was no need.

I think the human reaction time played the biggest affect on out results. Depending on human reaction time, the measurement of the period time could have been measured inaccurately, due to slow or to quick reactions when timing the stop-clock, also boredom may have affected the results, as the pupil may have been tired or collecting results, which make slow reaction time.

I think there might have been an error in measurement of angle of altitude. My group found it very difficult to measure the angle and it was even more difficult to get the exact same angle for each result.

I think we might have made errors in the measurement of string, we should of checked twice if the measurement of the string was measured correctly, making sure we measured from the bottom of the cork to the bottom of the mass.

Next time I think to make my experiment better I could have a person who has a good reaction time, I could have marked off the points with a pen to ensure they were as accurately measured as possible when I was measuring the string.

 Overall I felt my methods and results were reliable. This helps me conclude my experiment, by proving that the only factor, which affects the period of a simple pendulum, is its length. As the length increases, so does the period.

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