Oscillations

Anything that swings or bounces or vibrates in a regular motion is said to oscillate. For example a pendulum, a child on a swing, or a spring bouncing up and down.

  • simple harmonic motion
  • quantitative treatment using a = –ω²x and its solution x = A cos ωt

The link between an oscillating system undergoing simple harmonic motion and a sinusoidal wave is quite an easy one for students to understand, but the mathematics can be quite complicated for them.

Whilst this list provides a source of information and ideas for experimental work, it is important to note that recommendations can date very quickly. Do NOT follow suggestions which conflict with current advice from CLEAPSS or recent safety guides. eLibrary users are responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is consistent with current regulations related to Health and Safety and that they carry an appropriate risk assessment. Further information is provided in our Health and Safety guidance.

Links and Resources

Episode 300: Preparation for Simple Harmonic Motion Topic

The prior knowledge detailed in this resource is useful. Students will struggle unless they are comfortable with the relationship between sine and cosine.

publication year
2000 - 2009

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Episode 301: Recognising Simple Harmonic Motion

Students need to have a good understanding of the the features of simple harmonic motion before dealing with the mathematical relationships. This resource provides many example demonstrations. The one that the students find easiest to understand is the trolley between two springs as the magnitude of restoring force can be linked to the length of the spring. It is harder to see in a swinging pendulum.

publication year
2000 - 2009

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Episode 302: Simple Harmonic Motion Getting Mathematical

This is a hard topic mathematically, and this resource has a number of ideas to help students get to grips with the formula and relationship between x, v and a.

publication year
2000 - 2009

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Episode 303: Mass-Spring Systems

The oscillating mass and spring is a simpler system to understand than the pendulum. Students can link Hooke's law to allow them to calculate the magnitude of the restoring force in the system.

This resource has a number of questions for students to do as well as practical ideas.

publication year
2000 - 2009

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Episode 304: Simple Pendulum

This resource contains a good selection of investigations for students to do to allow them to measure oscillating pendulum systems. These experiments are good for getting students to think about timing in experiments. There are a range of measurement techniques from stopwatch to data loggers.

publication year
2000 - 2009

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