MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Fingerprinting Gravity

Bashar Lahlouh
Department of Physics
University of Jordan
Amman, Jordan

This very interactive video lesson uses the Simple Pendulum experiment to enable students to answer the fundamental question: What is the value of g in my school and in my home? Students will learn to calculate this value by working in groups to make pendulums of different lengths and by learning to count pendulum oscillations. Dr. Lahlouh also encourages students to contact students in other parts of the country or of the world with the goal of constructing a g-map. The only prerequisite for this lesson is a basic introduction to gravity. Supplies needed for this learning video include a 2-m long piece of light string; a mass (can be any small object e.g. some coins); measuring tape; stopwatch; nail; and a roll of scotch tape. The video lesson will take about one-hour. Some of the activities suggested for students between video segments include class discussions, the building of pendulums, and the working through of equations related to the measured oscillations of the students’ pendulums.

Dr. Lahlouh teaches physics for graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Jordan. Physics and science are the passion of his life. He really enjoys science and hopes all his students will enjoy it too.

This simulation shows a simple pendulum operating under gravity.

This site provides a video lecture by MIT physics professor, Walter Lewin. Concepts covered in this lecture begin with the restoring force of a spring (Hooke's Law) which leads to an equation of motion that is characteristic of a simple harmonic oscillator (SHO). Using the small angle approximation, a similar expression is reached for a pendulum.

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