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Oscillations Experiments and Tutorials for Classical Mechanics
written by Deva O'Neil
sub author: Dr. Susan Lehman
This document provides supplementary materials (experimental activities and tutorials) for a unit on oscillations and simple harmonic motion in intermediate-level Classical Mechanics.
It offers two (independent) experiments developed for an intermediate Classical Mechanics course.
1. Undamped pendulum (employs a small weight attached to a long string)- developed to address student difficulties with simple harmonic motion that present at the intermediate level. In assessing student learning at Bridgewater College and College of Wooster, we found that upper-level students struggled to use energy conservation reasoning appropriately, and made errors in interpreting the role of an initial push on the subsequent motion of a pendulum. The experiment targets these learning obstacles. The experiment is simple to set up and does not require a lab room - just a surface suitable for mounting a simple pendulum.
2. Damped pendulum - requires setting up a pendulum that leaks a sand trail. Requires a lab room or other area with flat tables.
The materials required are small weights, a horizontal bar mounted above a desk, sand or coarse cornmeal, rulers, stopwatches, protractors, and common household materials (tape, paper, string).
In addition to the experiments, this document outlines class discussion and small-group discussion questions to prepare students for the experiments. A tutorial is provided, intended to be completed in small groups, that guides students through the derivation of the equation of motion of a damped oscillator. The tutorial is intended to replace a lecture on damped oscillations.
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