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Task with Student Directions
Contributed by: Oregon State Department of Education


  • string
  • tape
  • meter stick
  • weights, washers or pennies on paper clips
  • clock with a second hand
  • protractor


After familiarizing your students with pendulums, you will ask your students to develop a procedure to answer a question using scientific inquiry. The question is: "In my classroom investigation, How does changing the mass of the pendulum affect the length of the cycle?"

1. Using the materials given to you in class, your task is to use scientific inquiry to investigate how the mass of the washers affects the pendulum.


  1. You need to conduct your scientific investigation with materials available in the classroom. As you design your investigation, think about:
  • Which factors will you vary in your study? Which will you keep the same?
  • How can you be sure that the swing is even and constant?
  • How will you measure the time of each cycle?


  1. List, in order, the steps you will use. You may include a diagram to help illustrate your plans for the investigation. Include any safety procedures you would follow. Make your procedure detailed enough, so someone else could follow it easily.
  2. Construct a data table or chart to record your observations and results.
  3. Perform the investigation by following the steps outlined in your procedure. Be sure to note any changes to your listed procedures and tell why.
  4. Record your observations and measurements. Write statements or paragraphs and/or use tables where appropriate. Now transform your data into a graph.


  1. Write an interpretation and analysis of your results. Note any limitations to your investigation. What additional experiments or questions were suggested as you did your investigation?
  2. Based on what you learned in our investigation, write your own question that you will answer with further scientific inquiry using classroom materials similar to those used for this investigation. Follow steps 2 and 3 above.



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