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Analysis of the effects of the mass of the hanging weight, spring constant and amplitude of

the motion in an oscillating spring/mass system


Abstract:
In an oscillating spring/mass system, you can change the mass of the weight, spring constant or
amplitude of the motion. We performed various experiments to determine what affects the period
of a spring/mass system. We performed several trials of 3 different setups. In each one, 2 of the
factors were kept constant, while the third was changed. Then, the period was measured and a
graph was created to view the change in period, so we could easily tell if the independent
variable had any effect on the period. From these results, the slope of the trend lines for length of
mass and string constant were power functions but the trend line was linear for the amplitude.
Therefore, the mass of the weight and the spring constant had an effect on the period but the
amplitude did not.
Experimental Design:

Experiment Effect of mass

Effect of spring

Effect of amplitude

Group I
Group II
Group III

Hypothesis

The mass hanging


affects period.

Spring constant
affects period.

Amplitude affects
period.

IV
DV
CV

Hanging mass
Period
Spring constant =
7.8 Nm,
Amplitude = 0.1 m

Spring Constant
Period
Hanging mass =
350g,
Amplitude = 0.05 m

Amplitude
Period
Spring constant = 45.58
Nm,
Hanging mass = 350g

Hypothesis
IV
DV
CV

Mass
Period
Amplitude = 4 cm,
Spring constant =
33 Nm

Spring constant
Period
Mass = 200 g,
Amplitude = 4 cm

Amplitude
Period
Mass = 200 g,
Spring constant = 33
Nm

Hypothesis
IV
DV
CV

Mass
Period
Distance = 12.5 cm,
Spring constant =
37 Nm

Spring constant
Period
Mass = 90 g,
Spring constant = 37
Nm

Distance
Period
Mass = 90 g,
Distance = 5cm / 1cm

Table 1: Experimental Design for all three groups

Results:
Uncertainties:

U{mass of hanging weight} = 0g; pre-defined mass


U{amplitude}=0.2cm; estimated error in using meter stick for measuring distance from
the point of support to the center of mass of the pendulum
U{time} = 0.0013s; calculated standard error from measuring then times at the same
distance

Group I:
MASS VS PERIOD
Mass Mathematical Model: y = 0.0925x0.0805
Mass (g)
Period (s)
50
0.521
70
0.613
90
0.689
110
0.761
130
0.825
150
0.881
230
1.08
Table 2: Group I Mass vs. Period data table

Figure 1: Group I Period vs. Mass graph

SPRING CONSTANT vs. PERIOD


Spring Constant Mathematical Model: y = 3.4181 x-0.042
Spring
Constant
(Nm)
4.935
76.51
45.58

Period (s)

1.580.0024
0.4170.0007
0.5480.0001
8
54.55
0.5020.0009
3
Table 3: Group I Period vs. Spring Constant data table

Figure 2: Group I Period vs. Spring Constant graph


AMPLITUDE vs. PERIOD
Amplitude Mathematical Model: y = -0.0004 x0.548
Amplitude
Period (s)
(cm)
3
0.5440.00059
5
0.5520.00034
7
0.5460.00017
9
0.5430.0016
Table 4: Group I Period vs. Amplitude data table

Figure 3: Group I Period vs. Amplitude graph


Group II:
Mass Mathematical Model: y = 0.1819 x0.2213
Mass (g)
Period (s)
10
0.296
20
0.376
50
0.419
100
0.487
150
0.542
200
0.593
250
0.637
Table 5: Group II Period vs. Mass table
Spring Constant Mathematical Model: y = 3.3726 x-0.498
Spring
Period
Constant
76
0.388
54
0.466
46.7
0.498
33
0.591
16.4
0.847
7.7
1.22
5.4
1.45
Table 6: Group II Period vs. Spring Constant table

Amplitude Mathematical Model: y = NOT AVAILABLE


Amplitude (cm)
Period (s)
3
0.59
5
0.597
8
0.595
10
0.502
12
0.546
13
0.591
15
0.667
17
0.587
Table 7: Group II Period vs. Amplitude data table
Group III:
Mass Mathematical Model: y = 0.1039 x0.4668
Mass (g)
Period (s)
50
0.646
90
0.844
110
0.926
130
1.01
150
1.08
Table 8: Group III Period vs. Mass data table
Spring Constant Mathematical Model: y = 3.4181 x-0.482
Spring Constant
Period (s)
(Nm)
5
0.258
58.4
0.850
75.6
0.759
Table 9: Group III Period vs. Spring constant data table
Amplitude Mathematical Model: y = 0.8498 x0.0021
Amplitude (cm)
Period (s)
5
0.858
10
0.853
15
0.884
20
0.855
1
0.849
Table 10: Group III Period vs. Amplitude data table

Conclusions and Discussion:


In this experiment, we observed the relationship between period of an oscillating spring/mass
system and the 3 factors that affect it: the mass of the hanging weight, the spring constant of the
spring and the amplitude of motion (the distance the spring is stretched).
After analyzing the data, it becomes clear that the period of a pendulum is affected by the mass
of the hanging weight and the spring constant. As we increased the mass of the hanging weight,
the period of oscillation increased too. On the other hand, as we increased the spring constant of
the spring, the period of oscillation decreased. However, the amplitude of oscillation has no
effect on the period (within reasonable error); as we increased the amplitude (the distance the
spring was stretched) and performed the trials, the period remained constant.
Figure 1 shows the graph of the mass of the hanging weight/bob vs. the period of the pendulum.
The slope of the curve is increasing, which means that as the x variable increases, the y variable
increases as well. This shows that and period is affected by the mass. Increasing the mass will
increase the period. For example, the period of the pendulum when the mass is 230 g is
significantly larger than the period when the mass is 50 g. It consistently increases.
Figure 2 show the graph of the spring constant of the spring used vs. the period of the pendulum.
The slope of the curve is decreasing in this case, so we can determine that contrary to the case of
the mass, increasing the length of string decreases the period of the pendulum. This indirect
relationship is clear and easy to notice, especially in the first 2 data points. The difference
between the periods of a spring constant of 4.9 and a spring constant of 54.5 is significant. This
proves that the spring used (spring constant) actually does have an effect of the period of a
pendulum.
Figure 3 shows the graph of the mass of the hanging weight/bob vs. the amplitude. The line is a
straight line with a slight slope (only due to error). According to mathematical model/equation
for the graph, the slope is -0.0004 which is really close to 0. The line perfectly fits all of the data
points. This linear relationship shows that changing the amount you stretch the spring does not
have any effect on the period of the pendulum. The period when you stretch the same spring 3
cm is very close to the period when you stretch the spring 9 cm. The difference is negligible
(only 0.001 cm).
Data from another 2 other groups was collected to compare our results against, and to help
validate and make our conclusion stronger with more evidence. Tables 5, 6 and 7 show the data
collected by group II for the 3 setups. The results are not in a graphical form, but we can see that
as the mass increases, period increases, as the spring constant increases, period decreases and
there is no relation between the period and the amplitude; changing the amplitude does nothing

to the period. This validates the claims we made in the above paragraphs. The data is very similar
to the data collected by our group, group I.
Tables8, 9 and 10 show the data collected by another group (group III). We can see the same
patterns in that data as well. This makes our claim stronger.
The three mathematical models are similar as well. The mathematical models for all three
experiments are:
Mass
Spring Constant
Amplitude

GROUP I
y = 0.0925x0.0805
y = 3.4181 x-0.042
y = -0.0004 x0.548

GROUP II
y = 0.1819 x0.2213
y = 3.3726 x-0.498
Not Available

GROUP III
y = 0.1039 x0.4668
y = 3.4181 x-0.482
0.8498 x0.0021

There are a few discrepancies in the data for the 3 groups. However, none of the errors are
significant enough to refute our claim. The 3 mathematical models are nearly identical, but there
is some error. This slight error could have been caused by a few factors. Possible factors are
discussed ahead.
There are barely any discrepancies in the data collected and graphed. None of the errors are
significant enough to impact our claim. The error bars are extremely small, so they have not been
included. The curves/lines pass through all of the points perfectly, without the need of error bars.
Any slight errors are likely due to error in the independent variables. The measurement of the
period could not have caused any errors as a photo gate device was used to minimize error. The
spring constant measurement could not have caused error either. However, the amplitude was
measured using a ruler and there could have been systematic error in measuring the exact
distance.
For the period vs. mass graph, the R2 value is 1, so that means the curve fits the points perfectly.
The R2 value for period vs. spring constant graph is 0.99 which is very close to a perfect value of
1. But the R2 value for the period vs. amplitude graph isnt as close to 1 as these two. It is 0.0831.
There is more error here than in the previous 2 cases, but not that much.
In the experiment, it was assumed that air resistance is minimal, so this must have very slightly
affected the data. This was one of the assumptions we made. The data would have been more
consistent and accurate if this was performed in a vacuum, however, that is not possible for us.
Working in a college laboratory leads to certain constrains in data collection. For example, if this
experiment was performed in an environment that allowed a greater range of spring constants to
be used, the data would be more accurate, and we could observe the trends using more spring
constants. The general result would have been the same, but there would be significantly less
error. Another factor that could have led to better experimentation would be the measurement of

the amplitude. In a more professional laboratory, this could be done using special setups and
measurement tools that are more precise and accurate than a simple ruler.
Conclusion:
The hypothesis for the mass of the weight and spring constant were supported, but our
hypothesis for the amplitude was proved wrong. We predicted that the amplitude (amount the
spring is stretched) would affect the period of the pendulum, but that is not true. The amplitude
had no effect on the period since the graph of period vs. amplitude was linear. Therefore, a new
hypothesis would be: The period of a spring/mass system is related to the mass of the weight and
spring constant, but not related to the amplitude of oscillation.