Day 19: Pendulum Inquiry

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Every couple of years I pull out this tried and true activity to introduce inquiry. Students need to figure out if changing the mass or the length of a pendulum affects the period. I now share a Google doc with them that has the “bones” of a lab write up. One member of the group makes a copy of it, renames it, shares it with the other group members (and with me). They have to investigate both length and mass but start with the variable they chose for their hypothesis. They do some prototyping on the first day to figure out how the set up the apparatus and we get to talk a lot about number of trial, details in materials list, proper procedure, and how they will record and display their data. As they work on the report we will address graphing, analysis, and their conclusion.

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6 thoughts on “Day 19: Pendulum Inquiry

  1. How much time does this take you from beginning to end? I’m doing it now and I’m always amazed at just how long it takes. I think it’s a great way to intro scientific investigation and graph analysis, though.

    • One day to discuss and prototype and set up and share document. One day to collect data. One day to do analysis and conclusion and clean up document. Can add an additional day to challenge them to match a given period (like the bouncey ball lab from Day 2 and 3). It can take awhile but it sets the tone for the rest of the year and it is easy to refer back to this – “remember when we did the pendulum lab and you changed one variable at a time . . . “

  2. Pingback: Day 26: Galileo Revisited | whiteley180

  3. I did this lab with Tasha and Caleb 🙂 We got to see how the masses and length of the string influenced the speed of the pendulum.

  4. I did this lab with Alexa & Caleb. I liked it a lot because each trial was different and we got to see how the different masses influenced the time.

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