Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Pendulum Periods

Figure from experiment 14 from Physics with Vernier


A swinging pendulum keeps a very regular beat. It is so regular, in fact, that for many years the pendulum was the heart of clocks used in astronomical measurements at the Greenwich Observatory.

There are at least three things you could change about a pendulum that might affect the period (the time for one complete cycle):

  • the amplitude of the pendulum swing
  • the length of the pendulum, measured from the center of the pendulum bob to the point of support
  • the mass of the pendulum bob

To investigate the pendulum, you need to do a controlled experiment; that is, you need to make measurements, changing only one variable at a time. Conducting controlled experiments is a basic principle of scientific investigation.

In this experiment, you will use a Photogate to measure the period of one complete swing of a pendulum. By conducting a series of controlled experiments with the pendulum, you can determine how each of these quantities affects the period.


  • Measure the period of a pendulum as a function of amplitude.
  • Measure the period of a pendulum as a function of length.
  • Measure the period of a pendulum as a function of bob mass.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for Physics with Vernier »

Physics with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Graph Matching
2ABack and Forth Motion
2BBack and Forth Motion
3ACart on a Ramp
3BCart on a Ramp
4ADetermining g on an Incline
4BDetermining g on an Incline
5Picket Fence Free Fall
6Ball Toss
7Bungee Jump Accelerations
8AProjectile Motion (Photogates)
8BProjectile Motion (Projectile Launcher)
9Newton's Second Law
10Atwood's Machine
11Newton's Third Law
12Static and Kinetic Friction
13Air Resistance
14Pendulum Periods
15Simple Harmonic Motion
16Energy of a Tossed Ball
17Energy in Simple Harmonic Motion
18AMomentum, Energy and Collisions
18BMomentum, Energy and Collisions
19AImpulse and Momentum
19BImpulse and Momentum
20Centripetal Accelerations on a Turntable
21Accelerations in the Real World
22Ohm's Law
23Series and Parallel Circuits
25The Magnetic Field in a Coil
26The Magnetic Field in a Slinky
27Electrical Energy
28APolarization of Light
28BPolarization of Light (Rotary Motion Sensor)
29Light, Brightness and Distance
30Newton's Law of Cooling
31The Magnetic Field of a Permanent Magnet
32Sound Waves and Beats
33Speed of Sound
34Tones, Vowels and Telephones
35Mathematics of Music

Experiment 14 from Physics with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Physics with Vernier</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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Dev Reference: VST0294

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