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published by the PhET
written by Karen King
This middle school lesson with student guide was designed for use with the PhET simulation Masses & Springs. It is a ready-to-use, inquiry-based activity for introducing the concepts of frequency and period in an oscillating object. Students will be using the tools in the simulation to help them solve a real-world question about designing a bungee jump for an amusement park.  

See Related Materials for a link to the simulation, which must be open in order to complete the activity.

This resource is part of the Physics Education Technology Project (PhET), an extensive collection of interactive simulations designed to support the teaching of physics, chemistry, biology, and mathematics.

Please note that this resource requires Java Applet Plug-in.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Work and Energy
Oscillations & Waves
- Oscillations
= Damped Oscillators
= Hooke's Law
= Simple Harmonic Motion
= Springs and Oscillators
- Middle School
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Student Guide
Intended Users Formats Ratings
- Educators
- Learners
- application/ms-word
- application/java
- application/ms-powerpoint
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Access Rights:
Free access
© 2009 PHET; University of Colorado at Boulder
Additional information is available.
Hooke's Law, damping, elastic potential energy, friction, harmonic oscillation, simple harmonic motion, spring constant, springs
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created October 18, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 18, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
August 20, 2009
Other Collections:

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

3. The Nature of Technology

3B. Design and Systems
  • 3-5: 3B/E2. Even a good design may fail. Sometimes steps can be taken ahead of time to reduce the likelihood of failure, but it cannot be entirely eliminated.
  • 6-8: 3B/M4a. Systems fail because they have faulty or poorly matched parts, are used in ways that exceed what was intended by the design, or were poorly designed to begin with.
  • 6-8: 3B/M4b. The most common ways to prevent failure are pretesting of parts and procedures, overdesign, and redundancy.

4. The Physical Setting

4E. Energy Transformations
  • 6-8: 4E/M4. Energy appears in different forms and can be transformed within a system. Motion energy is associated with the speed of an object. Thermal energy is associated with the temperature of an object. Gravitational energy is associated with the height of an object above a reference point. Elastic energy is associated with the stretching or compressing of an elastic object. Chemical energy is associated with the composition of a substance. Electrical energy is associated with an electric current in a circuit. Light energy is associated with the frequency of electromagnetic waves.
  • 9-12: 4E/H1. Although the various forms of energy appear very different, each can be measured in a way that makes it possible to keep track of how much of one form is converted into another. Whenever the amount of energy in one place diminishes, the amount in other places or forms increases by the same amount.
4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
  • 9-12: 4F/H1. The change in motion (direction or speed) of an object is proportional to the applied force and inversely proportional to the mass.
  • 9-12: 4F/H4. Whenever one thing exerts a force on another, an equal amount of force is exerted back on it.
  • 9-12: 4F/H7. In most familiar situations, frictional forces complicate the description of motion, although the basic principles still apply.
4G. Forces of Nature
  • 3-5: 4G/E1. The earth's gravity pulls any object on or near the earth toward it without touching it.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Measurement and Data (K-5)

Represent and interpret data. (1-5)
  • 2.MD.10 Draw a picture graph and a bar graph (with single-unit scale) to represent a data set with up to four categories. Solve simple put-together, take-apart, and compare problems using information presented in a bar graph.
  • 3.MD.4 Generate measurement data by measuring lengths using rulers marked with halves and fourths of an inch. Show the data by making a line plot, where the horizontal scale is marked off in appropriate units— whole numbers, halves, or quarters.
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Record Link
AIP Format
K. King, (PhET, Boulder, 2009), WWW Document, (
K. King, PhET Teacher Activities: Introduction to Oscillations (PhET, Boulder, 2009), <>.
APA Format
King, K. (2009, August 20). PhET Teacher Activities: Introduction to Oscillations. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from PhET:
Chicago Format
King, Karen. PhET Teacher Activities: Introduction to Oscillations. Boulder: PhET, August 20, 2009. (accessed 21 June 2024).
MLA Format
King, Karen. PhET Teacher Activities: Introduction to Oscillations. Boulder: PhET, 2009. 20 Aug. 2009. 21 June 2024 <>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Karen King", Title = {PhET Teacher Activities: Introduction to Oscillations}, Publisher = {PhET}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {21 June 2024}, Month = {August 20, 2009}, Year = {2009} }
Refer Export Format

%A Karen King %T PhET Teacher Activities: Introduction to Oscillations %D August 20, 2009 %I PhET %C Boulder %U %O application/ms-word

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %A King, Karen %D August 20, 2009 %T PhET Teacher Activities: Introduction to Oscillations %I PhET %V 2024 %N 21 June 2024 %8 August 20, 2009 %9 application/ms-word %U

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PhET Teacher Activities: Introduction to Oscillations:

Requires PhET Simulation: Masses & Springs

The PhET interactive simulation,  Masses & Springs, which must be running in order to complete this activity.

relation by Caroline Hall
Same topic as PhET Teacher Activities: Experimental Design with Forces

A two-day lesson also created by PhET teacher-fellows for middle school. This resource blends a classroom investigation with the PhET simulation Masses & Springs.

relation by Caroline Hall

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