Al Fredericksson

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Harmonograph

For many years I have been fascinated by a variety of devices using a pair of pendulums connected to a pen which traces the motion of the combined system. These often appear in old physics books from the 19th Century, under various names including ‘harmonograph’. A few years ago I decided to have a go at making one in my classroom, to use as part of a school Science Day. After a couple of not very successful efforts, I came up with the one shown in the first of these photographs. The other photographs are digital images of traces made by this simple combination of bricks and string. Each time I have set it up, the children have been mesmerised to see the patterns develop, and one former pupil said that she had never imagined that science could be interesting until she saw what pendulums could do!

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