Unusual cases of oscillation

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Title Unusual cases of oscillation
Description This calculus-based activity demonstrates that motion on a parabolic potential is simple harmonic motion (in this case in the x-direction... while not in the y-direction). I use it to help solidify the argument that circular pendulum motion is SHM only in small amplitude... but that small amplitude is not required for SHM. All that is required for SHM is Hooke's law dependence. It also helps students understand that motion on a pendulum is not a function of mass, but is a function of the surface gravitational acceleration (when students play with these variables in the sim... which they frequently do as they derive equations for period, etc.). At the end, I also include a bit about the relation of circular motion to harmonic motion (using the ladybug revolution sim)... but this part is easily cut. Solutions are available via email request.
Duration 60 minutes
Answers Included No
Language English
Keywords Hooke's law, calculus, simple harmonic motion, simple harmonic oscillation
Simulation(s) Energy Skate Park

Author(s) Debra Krause Dandaneau
School / Organization University of Tennessee
Date submitted 6/10/09
Date updated 6/10/09