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OSCILLATING

MASS ON SPRING
Summative Design
Practical

Titus John

LSG: 10 DAVID COWEN

SACE REG NO. 757278H
GROUP MEMBER: JITHIN JAMES
EXPERIMENT CONDUCTED: 14/05/2015
DUE DATE: 21/05/2015
WORD COUNT: 2625

Abstract
Two experiments were performed in order to confirm the relationship of the period of
oscillation of a spring executing simple harmonic motion. The spring constant was determined
by finding the slope of the graph drawn by measuring the extension when subjected to mass.
The relationship of the oscillation was then experimented by measuring the period of the
mass hung on the spring and setting it into a vertical oscillation. Resulting values of 1.25N/m
and 1.30N/m showed the limits of accuracy in proving Robert Hookes Law in this experiment.

Introduction
The following practical is an investigation of the period of vertical oscillation of a mass
attached to a light spring. Through experimental techniques, theoretical expression for the
period of oscillation will be tested and its relationship will be confirmed.
The spring has been a wonder in the field of engineering with many different extensive
applications. The understanding of such mechanics meant that scientists had to understand
the relationship between its elasticity, force, period of oscillation etc One such scientist was
the 17th century British Physicist, Robert Hooke and his law of simple motion.
Hookes principle stated that the force needed to extend or compress a string by a distance
is proportional to that distance
( Horibe, S n.d.). He sought to find a relationship
between this force and the elasticity and stated this law in the year 1660. It was later
published in 1678 which stated that extension of spring is proportional to the force.
The motion of the mass on the spring when subject to elastic force is justified by Hookes law,
known as the simple harmonic motion. It was understood that there was a restoring force
acting on the spring which brings it back to its initial position, causing it to oscillate up and
down (Simple Harmonic Motion 2015).
In the procedure of this experiment, the spring constant will be calculated and used in
confirming the period of oscillation of the mass attached to the string (PART 1). Therefore,
confirming the formula for Period T in simple harmonic motion (PART 2)

Aim
To confirm the theoretical relationship between the period and the mass on a spring executing
a simple harmonic motion.

Hypothesis
There will be a direct proportionality in which, if the weight of the suspended mass increases
the period of oscillation will increase respectively.

Relevant Physics Theory

Hookes law to calculate the spring constant can be mathematically expressed as:

F=kx
Here, F is the force applied to the string, x is the extension of the string and -k being the
string constant. Hookes law was the first example to explain the elastic property of the string
with its ability to return to its normal shape after stretching it with a restoring force. This
restoring force, with the help of Hookes law can be represented as F in the equation above.
The equation shows the direct proportionality between the spring force and its extension due
to the mass. Hence, when the two parameters are graphed they should pass through the

origin. This constant proportionality is the gradient of the graph and is called the spring
constant, k, which is seen in the equation above.
When the mass m suspends from the spring and is allowed to reach equilibrium, it can be
understood according to Newtons Second Law that the magnitude of the spring force is the
weight of the body as expressed as:

F=ma
The restoring force of the spring is directly proportional to the extension of the spring and
hence periodically oscillates in a simple harmonic motion. When the oscillating mass
experiences a force that is proportional to its displacement (i.e. extension of the spring) in the
opposite direction it is know that the mass is executing simple harmonic motion. Since this
motion is periodic, the time required for the mass to complete a single oscillation is shown as
period T.
Newtons Second Law to find the force acting on an object can be substituted onto Hookes
Law to get the following,

'

ma=kx (Hook e s Law )

It is important to understand the angular frequency of a rotation, the scalar measure for the
rate of change of any waveform. In this case, the oscillation of the mass on a spring. When
the object attached to the spring oscillates, it can be assumed that the spring will execute
simple harmonic motion with an angular frequency expressed as:

k
m

This can be substituted to the angular frequency formula which shows the rate of change of
an oscillating object (Simple Harmonic Motion 2015) and therefore can be expressed as the
following:

2
( Angular Frequency Formula)
T

T =2

T =2

m
k

The mass m is attached to the spring with a spring constant k. The above equation will
be tested through the practical and will be confirmed through the results collected.

Procedure
Apparatus/Material
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)

Spring
Retort Stand
Different amounts of mass
Mass Hanger
Meter Ruler

6) Stopwatch
7) Alligator Clip
8) H-Clamp

Variables Part 1 Finding the Spring Constant (k)

Independent
The independent variable is the Force (N) acting on the suspended mass causing the
extension of the spring

Dependent

Constant

Variables Part 2 Confirming Simple Harmonic Motion

Independent

The independent variable is the suspended mass on the hanger attached to the spring

Dependent

The dependent variable is the Period of Oscillation for the spring executing simple harmonic
motion

Constant

1) Number of Oscillation to calculate the period T

OHSW
Attached generic pro-forma

Line Diagram

Author)

Author)

Method Part 1 Finding the Spring Constant (k)

1) The spring was hung on a retort stand which was attached to the table using an HClamp. The spring was attached to the mass hanger using an alligator clip.
2) 50grams of mass was added to the mass hanger and progressively, 10grams of mass
was added until the point where if more mass was added, the spring would extend.
This is the zero extension point

3) Ignoring the weight added in step 2, 50grams of mass was added to the hanger and the
extension of the spring was recorded using a ruler
4) For each addition of mass (up to 300g) added to the mass hanger, the extension of the
spring was recorded.

Method Part 2 Confirming Simple Harmonic Motion

1) The spring was hung on a retort stand and was attached to a mass hanger.
2) About 300g of mass was added to the bottom of the string on a mass hanger until it
began oscillating vertically in a regular way. [This is the first (starting) value used to
record the period of oscillation]
3) The mass was drawn downwards and released allowing it to oscillate and execute
simple harmonic motion
4) The period of the oscillation was measured by recording the time taken for the mass to
oscillate 15 times.
5) Steps 3 and 4 were repeated with more mass (Adding 50grams progressively) until
sufficient data points were gathered to graph the results.

Results and Analysis

Results Part 1 Finding the Spring Constant (k)
Table 1 Raw measurements and Calculated Values (PART 1)

Mass
(M)
(g) (x10^2)
0.500
1.00
1.50
2.00
2.50
3.00

(kg)
0.050
0.100
0.150
0.200
0.250
0.300

Force
(F)
(N)
0.490
0.980
1.47
1.96
2.45
2.94

Trial 1
1.00
3.20
5.30
7.20
9.70
11.7

Extension of Spring
Trial 2
Trial 3
(cm)
1.30
1.20
3.20
3.40
5.20
5.30
7.50
7.50
9.40
9.60
11.8
11.2

Results Part 2 Confirming Simple Harmonic Motion

Table 2 Raw measurements and Calculated Values (PART 2)

MASS
TRIAL 1
(M)
(g) (x10^2)
3.00
3.50
4.00
4.50
5.00
5.50

(kg)
0.300
0.350
0.400
0.450
0.500
0.550

(M^1/2)
(kg^1/2)
0.548
0.592
0.632
0.671
0.707
0.742

10.3
11.8
12.4
13.3
13.9
14.3

PERIOD OF OSCILLATION
Time after 15 Oscillation
TRIAL 2
TRIAL 3
AVERAG
Time
(s)
10.9
10.8
10.7
11.5
11.6
11.6
12.3
12.2
12.3
13.1
12.9
13.1
13.8
13.4
13.7
14.2
14.5
14.3

Sample Calculations:
Average Extension of
Spring

Average
Oscillation

1.00+1.30+ 1.20
=1.17 cm
3

Force on Spring
from the hanging
mass

Period

10.3+10.9+10.8
10.7
=10.7 s
=0.71 s
3
15

F=mg
F=0.050 9.8

1.17
=0.012 m
100

0.490 N

Rounded
(3 s . f .)

3.500
3.000
2.500

2.000

Force (N)

1.500
1.000
0.500
0.000
0.000

0.020

0.040

0.060

0.080

0.100

0.120

0.140

1.20
1.00
0.80

Period (s)

0.60
0.40
0.20
0.00
0.250

0.300

0.350

0.400

0.450

0.500

0.550

0.600

Mass (kg)

1.20
1.00
0.80

Period (s)

R = 1

0.60
0.40
0.20
0.00
0.500

0.550

0.600

0.650

0.700

0.750

0.800

Graph 3 Relationship between the Period of Oscillation and Root of Mass

Analysis
Hookes Law states that the extension of spring is proportional to the force. Part 1 of the
experiment has proven this law as seen in Graph 1. A linear dependency was distinguished
between the force and the extension of the spring. Graph 2 shows a possible parabolic trend
and is not a straight line and therefore suggested that a graph of Period and the Root of Mass
might produce a straight line through the origin. This relationship is graphed in Graph 3
which shows a linear proportionality between the Root of Mass and the period of oscillation.
Therefore, Root of Mass

Period.

The relationship provides a mathematical expression between the Root of Mass and Period.

Using , y=mx+ c

The expression can be written as the formula for the period of oscillation,

( 2k ) m

T=

Here,

2
k

( )

is the theoretical slope which can be compared with the slope found in Graph

3. Using the value for k (the slope of Graph 1) to solve the theoretical slope, the percent
error was calculated.

The slope (m)=

( 2k )

2
( 23.48
)

m=1.30 N m1 (3 sf )
The slope of Graph 3 is 1.25, therefore the percentage error is:

percent error=

100
(true value)

( 1.25 ) (1.30)
100
( 1.30)

Discussion and Evaluation

The experiment was a success in supporting the aim of the practical, to confirm the
relationship between the period and the mass on a spring executing a simple harmonic
motion. In Part 1, the spring constant was calculated by the means of adding 50g mass on a
hanger attached to the string. In this configuration, two forces acted on the mass,
gravitational force (F) and the springs elastic restoring force (x) as stated by Robert Hooke.
The data was graphed and the slope calculated in Graph 1 was the spring constant (k). Part 2
of the experiment dealt with the confirmation of the equation used to find the period of the
mass attached to the string executing simple harmonic motion. Graph 3 portrayed the
relationship between the Period and the root of mass and the percent error of 3.84% was
calculated. This provided insight that the results were gathered as accurate as possible,
minimising any experimental errors.
Graph 1 showed a linear relationship, confirming Hookes Law that the Force is proportional
to the Extension of the spring. Accordingly for Part 2 of the experiment, Graph 2 showed no
relationship as there was no enough information to back it up, due to its possible parabolic
relationship, a second graph was constructed as seen in Graph 3 which showed a linear
relationship between the Period and Root of Mass. Thus being consistent and satisfying
according to Hookes Law. The line of best fit goes near/through the origin portraying a direct
proportionality between the two parameters.
Since the period of oscillation was measured using a stopwatch, the uncertainty due to
reaction time existed and had an effect on the results. This could be reduced by the use of a

Photogate that precisely measures the period of oscillation and sends the data back to a
computer. The Photogate would increase the accuracy of the results used to analyse and
expose any random error.

Experimental Errors

A source of error in the experiment is the reaction time for calculating the period.
Although the speed of the oscillation was not extremely fast uncertainty existed
especially when lesser mass was used. Due to the care taken by measuring 15
oscillations and then calculating the period, the cause of random error was significantly
reduced. Averaging the results from 3 trials also helped in reducing the effects of this
error (Table 2)
Part 1 of the experiment included a procedure where the certain amount of mass had to
be added until the point where if more mass is added, the spring begins to extend.
Adding just above or just little poses a systematic error that could further change the
accuracy of the calculation of spring constant found in Graph 1. This is also evident in
Graph 1 as the points dont go through the origin in a straight line as they should.
The common random error of parallax was vital in this practical. The only measuring
device to collect the data for the extension of the spring was the use of a meter ruler.
The location of the change in extension was relative to the end of the spring, due to the
location of the meter ruler it was necessary to view it in a slight angle and thus could
have posed varied results. Although the effect of this error was minimalized by
averaging the findings (Table 1) and reduced any large impact on the uncertainty for
the value k (constant) being calculated.

What happens as the spring is released at any point compared to a constant
distance?
The period of the oscillating mass vertically only depends on the spring constant and the
mass attached to the spring. Amplitude (distance at which the spring is released), within
experimental uncertainty, does not affect the period. The spring was released at 2cm and the
period was calculated to be the same. This was done for Trial 1 and 2 for Part 2 of the
experiment as seen in Table 2. With Trial 3, the mass was released randomly at different
distances and the period stayed consistent for each mass as evidently noticed in Table 2. A
key point had been observed during this test about simple harmonic motion. The speed of the
oscillation had increased as the distance the mass had to travel from its equilibrium increased
to keep the oscillation constant throughout. It is also noted that it isnt a parameter in the
formula based on Hookes law to calculate the period of oscillation. Therefore, looking at the
results in this practical and with the mathematical expression, it can be said that the
amplitude (i.e. distance at which the spring is released) does not affect the period of
oscillation.
What effect does overstretching the spring have in the practical?

and

Overstretching the spring could change the results of the extension.

The spring that isnt overstretched would have a large gradient
when compared to a stretched spring (Figure 3) leading onto incorrect results
therefore having varied periods of oscillation

The

spring cannot go back to its equilibrium and cause it

to distort due to the fact that it has exceeded its
elastic limit and therefore would affects the results as stated above
Figure 3 Illustration of 2 types of stretched
spring

Conclusion
The aim of the practical was to confirm the theoretical relationship between the period and
the mass on a spring executing a simple harmonic motion. Analysing the results showed a
direct proportionality between the Period and the Root of Mass. From the experiment, the
slope of this graph was 1.25, a 0.05 difference from the theoretical value calculated. The two
results were close with a percent error of only 3.58. These results were satisfying which
experimentally confirmed the formula for the period T. Hence, the hypothesis was
supported which stated: There will be a direct proportionality in which, if the weight of the
suspended mass increases the period of oscillation will increase respectively

References
1) Horibe, S n.d., Rober Hooke, Hooke's Law, University of Minnesota, accessed 18 May
2015, https://www1.umn.edu/ships/modules/phys/hooke/hooke.htm
2) Nave, R n.d., Simple Harmonic Motion, Illustration, Hyper Physics, accessed 21 May
2015, http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/soushm.html
3) Simple Harmonic Motion 2015, University of Salford, Manchester, accessed 16 May
2015, http://www.acoustics.salford.ac.uk/feschools/waves/shm.php

Acknowledgements
Doug Medwell Providing good insight on the Practical
Beta James (Group Member) For helping with the practical setup and data collection
Rocco For supplying the practical materials and apparatus to conduct the practical