Physics final exam problem: changing string tension and standing wave mode

Physics 205A Final Exam, fall semester 2011
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Cf. Giambattista/Richardson/Richardson, Physics, 2/e, Problem 11.49, Review & Synthesis 14 (p. 454).

A string with a length of 0.80 m between supports is stretched by a 2.3 kg mass hanging from one end. A device oscillates the n = 3 mode at 84 Hz. 

Find the mass that should hang off of this string such that the same 84 Hz frequency vibrates the n = 2 mode. Show your work and explain your reasoning using the properties of wave speeds, periodic waves, and standing waves.

Solution and grading rubric:
  • p:
    Correct. Mass m of the string is not provided. However:

    f3 = 84 Hz = ((3/(2·L))·sqrt(M·g/(m/L)),

    where the hanging mass M = 2.3 kg, (m/L) is the linear mass density of the string; and:

    f2' = 84 Hz = ((2/(2·L))·sqrt(Mg/(m/L)),

    where M' is the new mass that hangs off of the string when vibrating in the n = 2 mode. Equating:

    f2' = f3,

    and cancelling common factors results in:

    M' = M·(3/2)2 = 5.2 kg.

    And/or may have solved for quantities such as wave speed along each string, linear mass density, etc., in intermediate steps.
  • r:
    Nearly correct, but includes minor math errors.
  • t:
    Nearly correct, but approach has conceptual errors, and/or major/compounded math errors. Typically calculates linear mass density (m/L) as (2.3 kg)/(0.80 m) = 5.6 kg/m, and/or confounds (m/L) with hanging mass M, tension force F with frequency f, etc., but still has systematic attempt at finding linear mass density from original n = 3 case, and then feeds (erroneous) (m/L) and/or other factors into the n = 2 case, along with other algebraic or nomenclature errors.
  • v:
    Implementation of right ideas, but in an inconsistent, incomplete, or unorganized manner. Some attempt at manipulating standing wave frequency equations.
  • x:
    Implementation of ideas, but credit given for effort rather than merit.
  • y:
    Irrelevant discussion/effectively blank.
  • z:

Grading distribution:
Sections 70854, 70855
Exam code: finalB0xs
p: 9 students
r: 5 students
t: 23 students
v: 6 students
x: 1 student
y: 2 students
z: 2 students

A sample "p" response (from student 1124):
A sample "t" response (from student 3389):
Kudos (from student 0415):

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