Pendulums are a classic and reliable lab experiment. Here there are three separate labs, each focused on a different independent variable: pendulum length, weight, and angle of release. Students quickly realize that only one of these affects the dependent variable, time. Why do an experiment that has zero results? Because it's important to know what things affect the dependent variable and which do not. Working through all three labs should spur discussions about scientific method and why scientists repeat experiments.
Use this to learn and reinforce answers to questions such as:
❑ What things change the period of a pendulum?
❑ Why is the period of a pendulum useful?
❑ What things do not change the period of a pendulum?
Once students work through the activity, they can capture their observations using the included Lab Notes or probing questions included in the instructions.
♦ The period of a given pendulum is constant
♦ The period of a pendulum depends on its length
♦ The period of a pendulum does not change with the angle of release
♦ The period of a pendulum does not change with the weight of the bob
ES.1.c, ES.1.e, PS.1f., PS.1g., PS.1i.
Answer Keys and Teacher Notes address most questions and issues that might arise in this study—you shouldn’t have to do any outside research unless you want to.
Materials Needed: String (about 2 m per setup), paperclip, washers or small weights, clamp stand (alternate setups are suggested for this)
Teaching Time: 120 min
Prep Time: Copy (and laminate) paper protractor
Student Sheets Scaffolded writing prompts & lab reporting
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