Every year I try to come up with some new, crazy demonstrations to help my students learn and get excited about science. One of my big demos this year involves a rope, a bowling ball, and yours truly to show that the period of a pendulum does not change with a change of mass. Currently, it’s the buzz around the school.
You can time it yourself – 5 full revolutions of a bowling ball…about 16 seconds.
Next up…we’ll change the mass. Now we’ll put Mr. Ayton riding on the bowling ball. Time the 5 full revolutions…and you’ll find out it is still 16 seconds. A pendulum’s period only depends on the string’s length and that we are on the Earth.
Lastly, using my bowling ball pendulum I was able to show my students that energy is always conserved. Having faith in the laws of physics is important and each student got the chance to see how much they trusted men like Newton and Galileo. FYI – It’s tougher than it looks not to flinch when a bowling ball is coming right at your face.