Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Back and Forth Motion

Figure from experiment 2B from Physics with Vernier


Lots of objects go back and forth; that is, they move along a path first in one direction, then move back the other way. An oscillating pendulum or a ball tossed vertically into the air are examples of things that go back and forth. Graphs of the position vs. time and velocity vs. time for such objects share several features. When an object changes speed or direction, it accelerates. By examining the graphs, you will be able to tell if an object is accelerating. In this experiment, you will observe several objects that change speed and direction as they go back and forth:

  • Oscillating pendulum
  • Dynamics cart rolling up and down an incline
  • Student jumping into the air
  • Mass oscillating at the end of a spring
  • Ball tossed into the air

Analyzing and comparing graphs of the motion of these objects will help you to apply ideas of kinematics more clearly.


  • Qualitatively analyze the motion of objects that move back and forth.
  • Analyze and interpret back and forth motion in kinematics graphs.
  • Use kinematic graphs to catalog objects that exhibit similar motion.

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 2B 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: VST0282

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