Education Technology

Energy in Simple Harmonic Motion

Updated on 03/11/2015

Activity Overview

In this lesson, students will simulate a mass attached to a spring as it oscillates in simple harmonic motion.

Objectives

  • Students will analyze energy transformation for a mass attached to a spring as it oscillates in Simple Harmonic Motion.
  • Students will explore the Conservation of Energy principle.

Vocabulary

  • conservation of energy
  • gravitational potential energy
  • kinetic energy
  • spring potential energy
  • total mechanical energy

About the Lesson

This lesson simulates a mass attached to a spring as it oscillates in simple harmonic motion. In the first part of the lesson the mass oscillates across a frictionless, horizontal surface. In the second part, the mass is suspended from the spring and oscillates vertically. Bar graphs represent the potential and kinetic energies of the system.
As a result, students will:

  • Observe how energy transforms between potential energy and kinetic energy as the mass moves through its cycle.
  • Describe factors that affect the total energy of the system and the maximum speed of the mass.
  • Observe that the total energy remains constant throughout the motion.