The Pendulum: From Cooking Spaghetti to a Gravitational Wave Detector

Link to the demonstrator: in English


Age: > 12

Duration: 2 hours

Equipment: PC with internet connection and basic lab equipment

Contact details

Author: Dr. Matteo Barsuglia (PCCP)
Contact: info[at]frontiers-project[dot]eu


This demonstrator introduces the concept of the pendulum and the key concepts necessary to examine the properties of a pendulum. The demonstrator is inquiry based and supports students to develop controlled investigations on the different variables that affect the period of a pendulum. They will be looking at dependent and independent variables, and record data that they will display and analyse.

This demonstrator was designed as an introductory exercise for the gravitational-wave package of demonstrators and it introduces the idea of a pendulum as a seismological filter for gravitational-wave detectors.


Learning outcomes:

  1. To introduce students to the concept of a pendulum.
  2. To investigate the relationships between the variables that affect the period of a pendulum
  3. To graph and analyse data and form conclusions about how a pendulum operates.


Prior knowledge:

  • Types of variables
  • Graphing


Concepts introduced:

  • Pendulum
  • Period
  • Frequency
  • Gravitational wave detector

Learning intentions:

By the end of this descriptor, students should be able to:

  • Define the following: pendulum, cycle/oscillation, frequency, period, variable
  • List examples of everyday pendulums
  • Develop a method for an investigation
  • Identify the types of variables
  • Graph the results of an investigation
  • Form conclusions based on the results collected


Key activities:

  1. Pasta activity or alternative?
  2. Design a basic pendulum
  3. Plan and carryout investigation and collection of data
  4. Graph results
  5. Final Report

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