Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Driven Pendulum


Welcome to ABC Instruments and Technology! ABC has been approached by the town fathers of Warthog, Oregon. A recent malfunction in the workings of the clock in the town hall tower has rendered it inoperable. The winding mechanism that stores energy to run the clock is broken beyond repair. The town would like to retrofit the clock with a driven pendulum as its energy source rather than replace the entire clock and loose its historical value. As ABC’s newest instrumentation engineer, you have been assigned to a design team to help solve this problem.

Your marketing team has conducted focus groups with the city council of Warthog and the Parks department, which is charged with maintaining the clock. Results show that low cost and high reliability are the two most important user requirements. Also there is a request for a light that pulses when the pendulum is being driven to help the maintenance team troubleshoot any problems. Since the clock mechanism dictates which way the pendulum can move, your device only needs to put energy in along one axis. However, inside the ABC company there is a lot of enthusiasm for the idea of a driver for a pendulum that can swing in any direction as it could form the basis for a product line of Foucault pendulums, which would potentially have high worldwide demand.

Your job is to create a prototype of the driven pendulum using Vernier sensors, Logger Pro software or standalone LabQuest 2, and a variety of output devices shown in the Materials list.

Learning Objectives

  • Supplement classroom instruction of simple harmonic motion, resonance, and magnetism and their applications with a hands-on engineering application.
  • Control devices (solenoid) based on input from measured physical quantities (Photogate or Motion Detector).
  • Apply mathematical and logical processing to the control of devices.

Reference Experiments

Vernier Lab Book Experiment
Physical Science with Vernier 26 Electromagnets: Winding Things Up
27 Magnetic Field Explorations
Physics with Vernier 2A Back and Forth Motion
2B Back and Forth Motion
14 Pendulum Periods
25 Magnetic Fields in a Coil
26 The Magnetic Field in a Slinky
Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics 17 Pendulum Periods
18 Physical Pendulum

Sensors and Equipment

Additional Materials

  • 5 VDC Buzzer
  • 5 VDC fan
  • 5 VDC motor
  • 5 VDC vibrating motor electromagnet
  • green LED (with 120 Ω resistor)

Construction Materials

  • duct tape
  • cardboard
  • felt sheets
  • colored markers
  • string or thread
  • plumb bob, ball bearing or large nut

Download Extension

The download includes student instructions, DCU tips, teacher information, and examples in PDF and Microsoft® Word® formats.

Driven Pendulum

About Engineering Extension Activities

Engineering Extension Activities provide a way to add an engineering component to a Vernier science experiment. Use sensor data and Logger Pro software (or LabQuest 2) to help solve an engineering problem.

See All Engineering Extension Activities »

Go to top