McMurry Physics Students 
Build and Measure a Chaotic Pendulum

Oversight Prof (and photographer): R. Thompson
Webpage article: J. Christensen

Adam Davidson, Michael Foret, Tim Haupt, Chad Mikulec,
Niki Peterson, Tim Renner, Bonnie Schneider, Jed Taylor
Abiline, TX (Spring 2005) -- Eight students in McMurry's Advanced Lab course took on the task of constructing a Chaotic Pendulum.  There were three portions of the challenge: Numerical simulation and prediction (Tim Renner and Bonnie Schneider), construction and performance (Chad Mikulec, Tim Haupt, and Adam Davidson), and data analysis (Michael Foret, Niki Peterson, and Jed Taylor).  I know, you are wondering to yourself:  "Hmmm... how does one go about planning and building a chaotic pendulum???"  Well, let's find out; read on!

First, the thing has to be built!  However, while Chad, Tim, and Adam plan out the materials list and go buy it, let's consider the numerical simulation:  First, one must, as Tim and Bonnie can be seen doing, consult the Oracle (usually this involves pouring over the written texts of the ancient scribes, also known as "reviewing your introductory calc-based physics course").  Once this is complete, we refer to the equipment (in this case, a pair of "cool" magnets).  Then we refer to the upper-level Electricity and Magnetism text, make a plan, and code it up!  Hooray!

"Waitaminute!  This doesn't say anything about a chaotic pendulum!"



"...Magnets are SO cool!"

"...I know I've seen this problem in my homework somewhere..."

"Now, you run deep and I'll pass the ball here..."

Meanwhile, Chad, Tim, and Adam have bought the materials and are putting it all together!  First, the plan... then lay out the materials, construct it, mark the top, haul it to the lab -- without breaking anything on the way or walking into a pole!!

With the construction complete, everybody stands around trying to look busy.  (Some are better at looking busy than others... but of course everybody contributed significantly)

After everybody has relaxed, they take some data....

Then Jed realized that they needed the camera!

And finally, the data could be analyzed...

Hooray!  Success!