R. M. Pacheco

Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School

Physics and Astronomy

Committee Member

Ernest Behringer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Marshall Thomsen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dave Pawlowski, Ph.D.


I present a new, low-cost approach to observing driven resonance with simple and physical pendula. I mount a pendulum on a dynamics cart that is made to oscillate along a horizontal line by a stepper motor and micro-controller. The pendulum pivot therefore has a position that varies sinusoidally with time with a constant, adjustable frequency. I designed and constructed the experiment to be easily implemented into any physics lab. I tested the apparatus and observed driven resonance for both types of pendula. All of the measured resonant frequencies I determined using the apparatus had percent uncertainties under 4% and all of the predicted resonant frequencies of the pendula fell within the experimental frequency uncertainty ranges. None of the leading vendors of apparatus for instructional physics labs have pendulum attachments for dynamics carts, making this a new experimental approach for undergraduate or graduate physics students to observe a driven resonator. The cost of all the equipment, excluding dynamics carts and tracks, under $200.

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