June 2022

Observing Physics: 5 Oscillatory Motions To See In Real Life

June 8, 2022

Observing Physics: 5 Oscillatory Motions To See In Real Life

The concept of oscillation is one of the most interesting lessons you can learn in a h2 physics tuition class. Oscillation is essentially the process of repeating variations of any measure or quantity about a central value or between two or more positions. To put it simply, oscillation usually involves an object’s regular back and forth movement.

Oscillatory motions fall under the bracket of oscillation. An oscillatory motion is the repeated motion through equal time intervals of an oscillating body around its rest point. In other words, it is the back-and-forth motion of an object from its so-called mean position.

There are various oscillatory motions that you can observe in real life. Seeing these motions operate in the real world can help you understand how oscillation works better. Let us share some of the most common real-life examples of oscillatory motions that will truly open your eyes to the beauty of physics.

  • Swing

The motion of a playground swing is a more notable instance of oscillatory motions in the real world. When you first go on the swing without any movement, the swing is considered to be in its initial rest position. In other words, it is in a state of equilibrium.

Once push force is applied to the swing, the equilibrium gets interrupted, moving in a specific direction. After moving some length, the swing returns to its initial position and goes the same length in the opposite direction. This back-and-forth movement of the swing accurately displays an oscillatory motion.

  • Spring Toy

Another classic example of a real-life oscillatory motion is the movement of a spring toy. When you stretch and release a spring toy, it repeatedly moves to and fro.

When the spring toy expands, it moves at a certain distance toward one side. After covering the specific space, it returns to its original position and covers an equal distance in the opposite direction. The spring toy repeats this motion periodically for a certain time. This repeated motion is also what we’d call an oscillatory motion.

  • Birds Flapping Their Wings

You have probably already seen birds flying up in the sky several times, but you might have never noticed that the way they flap their wings repeatedly and periodically constitutes an oscillatory motion.

If you observe them at a close enough distance, you will notice that the wings of a bird tend to move a certain length above their original position, return to the said position, move the same length in the opposite direction, and revert back to the equilibrium position in a repetitive manner. This rhythmic motion of a bird’s wings is another fascinating showcase of oscillatory motion.

  • Vibrating Stringed Musical Instruments

Oscillatory motions are so ubiquitous that you can even observe them in something as commonplace as someone playing a stringed musical instrument. Many stringed instruments exhibit oscillatory motion in real life, such as the guitar, violin, harp, and cello.

When the strings of these musical instruments are pulled or pushed, they tend to get displaced from their initial position and cover an equal distance on each side of their equilibrium position. This back-and-forth movement of the strings is undoubtedly an oscillatory motion.

  • Pendulum Clock

If you have a classic pendulum clock at home, you can observe how an oscillatory motion operates precisely in real life. The motion of a pendulum clock is the perfect real-world example of that.

The operation of oscillation is apparent when the pendulum bob of the clock gets knocked off from its original position to cover a specific length on one side. After going such a length, it then returns to the equilibrium position and moves on the opposite side to cover the same distance; this to and fro movement goes on and on, creating the physics phenomenon we’re now intimately familiar with.


If you pay more attention to the motions around you, you’ll observe that there are many more oscillatory motions than you’ve ever realised. Indeed, oscillatory motion is one of the most observable and interesting concepts in physics. Wherever you go, never be able to escape it.

If you want to learn more about oscillation and oscillatory motions, you should consider signing up for our tuition classes. At Best Physics Tuition, we provide extensive tuition classes to help you master the physics syllabus and understand the real-life applications of physics concepts better. By enrolling in a group-based physics tuition class, you will learn science in a fun and unforgettable way! Contact us today so you can get started immediately.

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