Welcome back to the Demonstration Highlight of the Week! This week, we’re taking a look at G1-31: Hooke’s Law and Simple Harmonic Motion. You can see it in action in this video starring PhD student Subhayan Sahu.
In this demonstration, we have a spring that is reasonably well described by Hooke’s Law – that is, within its usual range the spring responds linearly to force. We hang a series of 200 gram masses from the spring, and by measuring the displacement and the period of oscillation we can determine the spring constant, k.
You can try this kind of experiment at home as well! If you don’t happen to have a spring handy, the PhET Collection has a simulated one you can use: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/masses-and-springs .
This demonstration is an excellent example of how we can use multiple measurements in scientific experiments. The value of k (or, of k is known, of g) can be determined from the displacement, or from the period of oscillation. By measuring both, we can test our assumptions about the system.