This is a set of teaching materials for building a pendulum with a one-second period. Students construct the pendulum from common household items, then experiment to see how the period of the pendulum is affected by physical properties, such as length of the string and mass of the bob. Included is a complete student procedural guide and an additional activity to extend the learning.

Editor's Note:Great way to integrate Science and Engineering Practices with the topic of periodic motion. The full set of materials gives teachers all they need for a turn-key classroom project.

One Minute Timer
This powerpoint display gives a one minute count-down by seconds. It can be used with the One Second Timer laboratory to help students design their pendula. download 136kb .ppt
Rights: This document has no restrictions provided copyright information is retained.
Published: March 17, 2005

Pendula on Parade
This activity uses the concepts learned in the One Second Timer lab to stimulate class discussion of the period of pendula. It is a part of a PTRA manual on… more... download 53kb .pdf download 34kb .doc
Rights: This document has no restrictions provided copyright information is retained.
Published: March 17, 2005

6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.

9-12: 4F/H8. Any object maintains a constant speed and direction of motion unless an unbalanced outside force acts on it.

9. The Mathematical World

9B. Symbolic Relationships

9-12: 9B/H4. Tables, graphs, and symbols are alternative ways of representing data and relationships that can be translated from one to another.

9-12: 9B/H5. When a relationship is represented in symbols, numbers can be substituted for all but one of the symbols and the possible value of the remaining symbol computed. Sometimes the relationship may be satisfied by one value, sometimes by more than one, and sometimes not at all.

11. Common Themes

11A. Systems

6-8: 11A/M2. Thinking about things as systems means looking for how every part relates to others. The output from one part of a system (which can include material, energy, or information) can become the input to other parts. Such feedback can serve to control what goes on in the system as a whole.

9-12: 11A/H1. A system usually has some properties that are different from those of its parts, but appear because of the interaction of those parts.

9-12: 11A/H2. Understanding how things work and designing solutions to problems of almost any kind can be facilitated by systems analysis. In defining a system, it is important to specify its boundaries and subsystems, indicate its relation to other systems, and identify what its input and output are expected to be.

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Types of Interactions (PS2.B)

Forces that act at a distance (electric, magnetic, and gravitational) can be explained by fields that extend through space and can be mapped by their effect on a test object (a charged object, or a ball, respectively). (6-8)

Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem (ETS1.A)

The more precisely a design task's criteria and constraints can be defined, the more likely it is that the designed solution will be successful. Specification of constraints includes consideration of scientific principles and other relevant knowledge that is likely to limit possible solutions. (6-8)

Developing Possible Solutions (ETS1.B)

There are systematic processes for evaluating solutions with respect to how well they meet the criteria and constraints of a problem. (6-8)

A solution needs to be tested, and then modified on the basis of the test results, in order to improve it. (6-8)

Models of all kinds are important for testing solutions. (6-8)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Cause and Effect (K-12)

Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural systems. (6-8)

Systems can be designed to cause a desired effect. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)

Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data. (9-12)

Analyze data using tools, technologies, and/or models (e.g., computational, mathematical) in order to make valid and reliable scientific claims or determine an optimal design solution. (9-12)

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions (K-12)

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include constructing explanations and designing solutions supported by multiple sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories. (6-8)

Apply scientific ideas or principles to design an object, tool, process or system. (6-8)

Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for real-world phenomena, examples, or events. (6-8)

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations (K-12)

Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include investigations that use multiple variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions. (6-8)

Plan an investigation individually and collaboratively, and in the design: identify independent and dependent variables and controls, what tools are needed to do the gathering, how measurements will be recorded, and how many data are needed to support a claim. (6-8)

Planning and carrying out investigations in 9-12 builds on K-8 experiences and progresses to include investigations that provide evidence for and test conceptual, mathematical, physical, and empirical models. (9-12)

Plan and conduct an investigation individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence, and in the design: decide on types, how much, and accuracy of data needed to produce reliable measurements and consider limitations on the precision of the data (e.g., number of trials, cost, risk, time), and refine the design accordingly. (9-12)

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking (5-12)

Mathematical and computational thinking at the 6–8 level builds on K–5 and progresses to identifying patterns in large data sets and using mathematical concepts to support explanations and arguments. (6-8)

Use mathematical representations to describe and/or support scientific conclusions and design solutions. (6-8)

Mathematical and computational thinking at the 9–12 level builds on K–8 and progresses to using algebraic thinking and analysis, a range of linear and nonlinear functions including trigonometric functions, exponentials and logarithms, and computational tools for statistical analysis to analyze, represent, and model data. Simple computational simulations are created and used based on mathematical models of basic assumptions. (9-12)

Use mathematical representations of phenomena to describe explanations. (9-12)

NGSS Nature of Science Standards (K-12)

Analyzing and Interpreting Data (K-12)

Analyzing data in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to introducing more detailed statistical analysis, the comparison of data sets for consistency, and the use of models to generate and analyze data. (9-12)

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions (K-12)

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include constructing explanations and designing solutions supported by multiple sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories. (6-8)

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations (K-12)

Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include investigations that use multiple variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions. (6-8)

Planning and carrying out investigations in 9-12 builds on K-8 experiences and progresses to include investigations that provide evidence for and test conceptual, mathematical, physical, and empirical models. (9-12)

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking (5-12)

Mathematical and computational thinking at the 6–8 level builds on K–5 and progresses to identifying patterns in large data sets and using mathematical concepts to support explanations and arguments. (6-8)

Mathematical and computational thinking at the 9–12 level builds on K–8 and progresses to using algebraic thinking and analysis, a range of linear and nonlinear functions including trigonometric functions, exponentials and logarithms, and computational tools for statistical analysis to analyze, represent, and model data. Simple computational simulations are created and used based on mathematical models of basic assumptions. (9-12)

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

High School — Functions (9-12)

Interpreting Functions (9-12)

F-IF.4 For a function that models a relationship between two quantities, interpret key features of graphs and tables in terms of the quantities, and sketch graphs showing key features given a verbal description of the relationship.^{?}

F-IF.6 Calculate and interpret the average rate of change of a function (presented symbolically or as a table) over a specified interval. Estimate the rate of change from a graph.

Trigonometric Functions (9-12)

F-TF.5 Choose trigonometric functions to model periodic phenomena with specified amplitude, frequency, and midline.^{?}

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Dynamics: Forces and Motion Unit Title: Applications of Newton's Laws

This lab activity, developed by a Physics Teacher Resource Agent, gives directions for students to construct a very simple pendulum, then experiment with the mass of the bob and length of the string to see what factors affect the period of the pendulum. The printable student guide is easy to follow, yet challenges students to think deeply.

Nelson, J., & Nelson, J. (2005, March 17). Making a One Second Timer. Retrieved May 27, 2015, from http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=2151&DocID=8

Nelson, Jim, and Jane Nelson. Making a One Second Timer. March 17, 2005. http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=2151&DocID=8 (accessed 27 May 2015).

Nelson, Jim, and Jane Nelson. Making a One Second Timer. 2004. 17 Mar. 2005. 27 May 2015 <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=2151&DocID=8>.

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Author = "Jim Nelson and Jane Nelson",
Title = {Making a One Second Timer},
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Number = {27 May 2015},
Month = {March 17, 2005},
Year = {2004}
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