Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology



The goal of this activity is for students to confirm conservation of energy in a vertical mass spring system.

In the Preliminary Observations, students first observe a bungee jump, before viewing the classic "mass-on-a-spring" experiment. It is likely your students have investigated this experiment before. However, in this investigation, students will focus on the kinetic and potential energies of the mass as it oscillates, rather than just the up and down motions. In order to do this, students will use position and velocity measurements to calculate the energies that are present in the oscillating mass on a spring. The initial Preliminary Observations can be made individually and in pairs, and then the demonstrations and discussion of the observations should be completed as a whole class activity.

During the subsequent inquiry process, students can use a motion detector or video analysis to collect the required data.

Students should finish the activity having evaluated the energy transformations in the system numerically and graphically. They should analyze their data to determine if any of the energy of the system is lost to the environment.

Learning Outcomes

  • Design and perform an investigation.
  • Draw a conclusion from evidence.
  • Determine the spring constant of a real spring.
  • Examine the energies in an oscillating spring.
  • Test the principle of conservation of energy.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Additional Requirements

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

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS3.A Definitions of Energy
  • PS3.B Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect
  • Systems and System Models
  • Energy and Matter
  • Stability and Change

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Developing and Using Models
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

Physics Explorations and Projects

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Constant Motion and Changing Motion
2Balanced Forces and Unbalanced Forces
3Gravitation on Earth
4Newton’s Second Law
5Projectile Challenge
6Impulse and Momentum
7Equilibrium of Forces
8Circular Motion
9Conservation of Momentum
10Egg Protection Challenge
11Springs Making Things Move
12Kinetic Energy and Mass
13Work and Kinetic Energy
14Work Done by Gravity
15Energy in Collisions
16Rube Goldberg Machine
17Charge and Charge Models
18Coulomb's Law
19Measuring Electric Current
20Conservation of Charge
21Voltage in a Circuit
22Battery Challenge
23Magnetic Field of a Current
24Current from a Changing Field
25Generating Electricity
27Wave Speed on a String
28Speed of Sound
29Interference and Diffraction
30Sound and Loudness
31Wave Communication Challenge
32Energy Storage in Capacitors
34Heat as Energy Transfer
35Solar Cells
36Rube Goldberg Machine Revisited

Experiment 33 from Physics Explorations and Projects Lab Book

<i>Physics Explorations and Projects</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.

Buy the Book

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