Pendulum Patterns

Pendulum Patterns: To and Fro We Go

Today’s lesson focused on pendulums.  The motion of pendulums was one of the many phenomena investigated by the famed scientist Galileo over 400 years ago and what he learned about them had a huge impact on the history of technology. The periodic motion of pendulums allowed for the invention of clocks and the standardization of time measurement. Pendulums still have many uses in modern society. Students saw that a pendulum consists of a pivot point with a rope or wire attached to it and a mass on the end. The time it takes the pendulum to make one full oscillation back and forth is called the period. If we took the same pendulum and put it on the Moon, the pendulum would have a slower period due to less gravitational force. Some examples of items that use pendulums are metronomes and grandfather clocks. For the activity, students constructed their own pendulums, then changed the length of the pendulum and measured the periods for pendulums of different lengths. They noticed a pattern: a longer length correlated to a longer period. They used this pattern to predict the period for a pendulum with an even longer chain length. Predicting how a system will react if the variable is changed is an important scientific skill.

Péndulos: de aquí para allá

La clase del día de hoy trató sobre los péndulos. El movimiento pendular fue uno de los muchos fenómenos estudiados por el famoso cientifico Galileo hace más de 400 años atrás; lo que él describió sobre los péndulos marcó un hito en la historia de la tecnología. El movimiento periódico de los péndulos permitió la invención de los relojes y la estandarización del tiempo, y aún tienen muchos usos en la sociedad moderna. Los estudiantes observaron que un péndulo está configurado por una masa suspendida de un punto o de un eje horizontal fijos mediante una cuerda o cable. El tiempo que tarda el péndulo en oscilar completamente de ida y vuelta se llama “período”. Si tomáramos el mismo péndulo y lo pusiéramos en la Luna, éste tendría un período más lento debido a que en la Luna hay menos fuerza gravitacional. Algunos ejemplos de artículos que usan péndulos son los metrónomos y los relojes de los abuelos. Para la actividad, los estudiantes construyeron sus propios péndulos, luego cambiaron la longitud del péndulo y midieron los períodos para los péndulos de diferentes longitudes. Notaron un patrón: una longitud más larga correlacionada con un período más largo. Utilizaron este patrón para predecir el período para un péndulo con una longitud de cadena aún más larga. Predecir cómo reaccionará un sistema si se cambia la variable es una habilidad científica importante. Partially translated with Google Translate

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Lauren Koppel

Lauren earned a Bachelor’s degree with a double major of Biology and Psychology from Clark University, and a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During her undergraduate years, she worked in a evolutionary neurobiology lab that studied the neural development of annelids (marine worms), with a focus on the sox family of genes. Lauren loves learning about how the world works (including everything from biology to chemistry to engineering), and is passionate about sharing that knowledge and enthusiasm with others. In the past, she has interned at the Museum of Science, where she educated learners of all ages through hands-on activities, games, and experiments. Other science education organizations with which Lauren has worked include The People’s Science, EurekaFest, and Eureka! of Girls Inc. of Worcester. Currently she lives in Boston, where devotes her free time to playing Quidditch, reading sci-fi novels, playing her ukulele, and enjoying all the culinary delights the city has to offer.

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