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You may be very familiar with swinging pendulums and the variables that do and do not affect. In this design lab, you will learn about how a torsional (twisting) pendulum works.

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Francisca Sondjaja

Torsional Pendulum Design Lab


You may be very familiar with swinging pendulums and the variables that do and do not affect.  In this design lab, you will learn about how a torsional (twisting) pendulum works.  


  • Ring stand and clamps
  • Rubber bands
  • Ruler
  • Stopwatch
  • Hanging Mass
  • Sticky tack
  • Coins
  • Anything else you might find in a normal physics classroom.



Design a procedure to test how a certain variable (of your choice) may affect a twisting.  As always, this should design lab should include…..

  • Defining the Problem and selecting variables:
  • Controlling the Variables:
  • Developing a method for collecting data:

Thus, step by step instructions and diagrams are helpful to the reader and highly recommended.  Also include a hypothesis and a sketch graph of what you think will happen.  

The above information was given to the student by the instructor.  What follows immediately below is the student’s own work.

Problem: How does increasing the number of coins on the ruler affect the time it takes for the torsional pendulum to complete one period?


...read more.


distance from center of ruler to coins (both stacks of coins have to be evenly spaced from center of ruler and stay at that distance)balance (e.g. number of coins on each side must be the same)outside unbalanced forces (e.g. do not bump the spinning ruler into things or let a significantly strong wind affect its movement)type of coins (so that increase of mass each time is close to constant)amount of sticky tacks to stick each coin (so that increase of mass each time is close to constant)



  1. Set up all materials as pictured above: tape the weight to the middle of the ruler; loop rubber band onto the hook of the mass; however, do not stick coins yet at this point.
  2. Twist the rubber band 5 full rotations and keep it from unwinding.
  3. If you have a partner (Steve, for example), let one person be in charge of holding the torsional pendulum as it unwinds and the other in charge of timing with stopwatch and recording time.
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G4IA Assessment sheet                                                                                                                                          2/9/2009

Student:          Sondjaja, Francisca

Investigation:  Torsional Pendulum Lab

Time: 1.0Hrs

Date(s): 24/09/08



Defining the problem and selecting variables

You formulated a research question and identified the relevant variables.


Controlling variables

You designed a method that effectively controls variables.

Nice work to define that the same amount of sticky tack should be used for each coin added.


Describing a method for collection of data

:)  Excellent drawing.  Wow.

You developed a method that allows for collection of sufficent data.


This criteria is only addressed

This grade will not appear on the PSOW

General comments

☺ Great work

Francisca, this might be the most awesome lab ever.  I can find nothing wrong with it.  

Ringo Dingrando

...read more.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Physics section.

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