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Spring into Action

Experiment #3 from Investigating Motion

Education Level
Elementary School


Remember the last time you played on a swing set? Scientists call this type of back and forth motion simple harmonic motion. Besides describing back and forth, or horizontal, movement, simple harmonic motion can also be a movement that is up and down, or vertical, like a bungee jumper bouncing after the jump. The time it takes for one complete cycle of these up-and-down movements is called a period. In this activity, we will study the up-and-down motion of a ball at the end of a Slinky® using a Motion Detector.


  • Graph vertical simple harmonic motion.
  • Find how long it takes to make one complete cycle, or period.
  • Find out how the period is affected by pulling the spring further down.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following sensors and equipment. Additional equipment may be required.

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This experiment is #3 of Investigating Motion. The experiment in the book includes student instructions as well as instructor information for set up, helpful hints, and sample graphs and data.

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