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published by the Science NetLinks and the American Association for the Advancement of Science
In this lesson for Grades 6-8, learners observe the movement of pendulums in order to understand how gravitational forces act and how they affect changes in speed and acceleration of objects. It starts with a brief exploration of Galileo's experiments with pendulum motion, then introduces websites with pendulum simulations, and culminates with a lab in which students construct a pendulum, test its period/frequency, and vary length of the string. This resource comes with warm-up questions, printable student guides, and complete lesson plan.

Editor's Note: We recommend introducing this lesson after students have explored pendulum motion without air resistance.  See Related Materials for a link to the "Pendulum Energy Model", a standards-based simulation for Grades 6-9. The accompanying lesson was developed by an experienced middle school teacher.

Science NetLinks is a part of Thinkfinity, a partnership that provides free Internet-based content across academic disciplines. Science resources are aligned to AAAS Benchmarks for Science Literacy.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Applications of Newton's Laws
Oscillations & Waves
- Oscillations
= Pendula
= Simple Harmonic Motion
- Middle School
- High School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Student Guide
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Laboratory
- Assessment
- New teachers
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Access Rights:
Free access
© 2001 AAAS
air resistance, frequency, friction, pendulum period, simple harmonic motion
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created October 14, 2008 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
September 10, 2016 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
October 20, 2001

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
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.
  • 9-12: 4G/H1. Gravitational force is an attraction between masses. The strength of the force is proportional to the masses and weakens rapidly with increasing distance between them.

12. Habits of Mind

12C. Manipulation and Observation
  • 6-8: 12C/M3. Make accurate measurements of length, volume, weight, elapsed time, rates, and temperature by using appropriate devices.
12D. Communication Skills
  • 6-8: 12D/M1. Organize information in simple tables and graphs and identify relationships they reveal.
  • 6-8: 12D/M2. Read simple tables and graphs produced by others and describe in words what they show.
  • 6-8: 12D/M6. Present a brief scientific explanation orally or in writing that includes a claim and the evidence and reasoning that supports the claim.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Standards for Mathematical Practice (K-12)

MP.8 Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

Measurement and Data (K-5)

Geometric measurement: understand concepts of angle and measure angles. (4)
  • 4.MD.5.b An angle that turns through n one-degree angles is said to have an angle measure of n degrees.

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Periodic and Simple Harmonic Motion
Unit Title: Simple Harmonic Motion

This multimedia module was created by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and aligned to AAAS Benchmarks. It opens with Galileo's pendulum experiments, continues with interactive simulations of pendulum motion, and concludes with a hands-on lab.

Link to Unit:
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AIP Format
(Science NetLinks, Washington, 2001), WWW Document, (http://sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/exploring-pendulums/).
Science NetLinks: Exploring Pendulums (Science NetLinks, Washington, 2001), <http://sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/exploring-pendulums/>.
APA Format
Science NetLinks: Exploring Pendulums. (2001, October 20). Retrieved April 13, 2024, from Science NetLinks: http://sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/exploring-pendulums/
Chicago Format
Science NetLinks. Science NetLinks: Exploring Pendulums. Washington: Science NetLinks, October 20, 2001. http://sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/exploring-pendulums/ (accessed 13 April 2024).
MLA Format
Science NetLinks: Exploring Pendulums. Washington: Science NetLinks, 2001. 20 Oct. 2001. 13 Apr. 2024 <http://sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/exploring-pendulums/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {Science NetLinks: Exploring Pendulums}, Publisher = {Science NetLinks}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {13 April 2024}, Month = {October 20, 2001}, Year = {2001} }
Refer Export Format

%T Science NetLinks: Exploring Pendulums %D October 20, 2001 %I Science NetLinks %C Washington %U http://sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/exploring-pendulums/ %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D October 20, 2001 %T Science NetLinks: Exploring Pendulums %I Science NetLinks %V 2024 %N 13 April 2024 %8 October 20, 2001 %9 text/html %U http://sciencenetlinks.com/lessons/exploring-pendulums/

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Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

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Science NetLinks: Exploring Pendulums:

Covers the Same Topic As Boston University Physics Easy Java Simulation: Simple Pendulum

A robust, yet easy-to-use model that simulates the motion of a simple pendulum. Provides real-time graphs of KE/PE, angular acceleration, angular velocity, and free-body diagrams.

relation by Caroline Hall
Is Simulated By Pendulum Energy Model

This is a set of packaged materials for middle school use, all designed for use with the Open Source Physics Pendulum Energy Model. A pendulum simulation is viewed alongside bar graphs that show changing levels of kinetic and potential energy. Air resistance is ignored in this simulation.

relation by Caroline Hall

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