Bouncing & Oscillations – Lesson 2


Scott H. Hawley, Ph.D

School / Organization, City and State / Province
Belmont University, Nashville, TN

Grade Level
10th – 12th grade

Standards Mete(s)

  • Frameworks PS2.C: Stability and instability in systems (5th through 12th)
  • Frameworks PS4.A: Properties of waves— Amplitude (by end of grade 8)

Time Needed
45 minutes


  • What is simple harmonic motion?
  • Does Hooke’s law apply in Portal 2?
  • How does height of a drop into a portal affect the amplitude of an oscillation?

Students learn about simple harmonic motion (SHM) and Hooke’s law. Then, they determine that the force of gravity rather than Hooke’s law better applies in explaining the SHM observed in Portal 2. Students test how height affects the amplitude of SHM in Portal 2 by creating a test chamber that allows for SHM to be set up from different heights.


  • Simple Harmonic Motion (SHM)
  • Simple Harmonic Oscillations (SHO)
  • Small oscillations
  • Period
  • Amplitude
  • Equilibrium
  • Hooke’s law
  • Restoring force
  • Linearly proportional

Student Prerequisites

  • Experience with harmonic motion
  • Algebra
  • Working with the value for the acceleration/force of gravity

Teacher Materials Needed

Student Materials Needed

Lesson Plan
Download Portal “Bouncing” and Oscillations, Lesson 2