STEM – Pendulum Exploration – Mini-Math Lesson (PreCalculus)

Today’s STEM lesson is at a PreCalculus level, where we are exploring the graph of a a pendulum swing. The image to the right is a short GIF of a pendulum swinging. It’s hard to tell because this is a short GIF, but the pendulum will swing because of gravity, over the center point and, if there were no air resistance friction, this swing would continue indefinitely. The motion of a pendulum has been traced before by others, and forms a regular periodic curve, and because of the damped motion (slowed by friction), the motion of the damped pendulum can be modeled by a sine function with a decreasing amplitude over time.

The activity today explores the proportion that the amplitude is decreasing, given by an exponential function. Students will graph the function and explore the position of the pendulum at given times. They will explore the swing positions of the pendulum using the graph and ratio of the changes in the peaks.

We will explore a bit more with pendulum and force in tomorrow’s STEM lesson as well, with a focus more on the force of a pendulum pushing on an object as it hits it.

Here is the link to the activity and also the video overview:


The tool being used in these mini-math lessons is the FREE web-based math software, ClassPad.net.

Remember – if you want to save and/or modify any of these activities, create a free account.  Some useful links below: