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Find out about the energy changes in a tethered cart.

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Evaluation        Physics Coursework        Gidon Mahalla



The aim of this experiment is to find out about the energy changes in a tethered cart.  This includes how the amount a spring is stretched affects the distance the cart attached to it will move up a slope.


  1. Wear safety specs at all times, as springs can be very harmful when stretched out of control.
  2. Make sure all apparatus is firmly fixed together as the ramp could become a hazard.
  3. Normal safety precautions to be kept to at all times.


Before I start the experiment I intend to find out the elastic constant of the spring.  I will do this by working out how much the spring I will use in the experiment stretches when a one Newton weight is attached to it.  It is then possible for me to calculate how many Newton’s it takes to stretch the spring one meter a, s the amount of Newtons required to stretch the spring is directly proportional to the length the spring stretches.  I also intend to weigh the cart to help me make conclusions later in the coursework.

The test will be made fair by making sure

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We carried out the experiment as explained in the method above.  We took down the results that we achieved from the experiment and they are listed in the table of results below.

Table of Results:

e (cm)

Distance cart moves up ramp (d)

Ave of d (cm)


Try 1

Try 2

Try 3

















































We had to make sure that all detail was taken into account to carry out the experiment.  Firstly when I was measuring how far the cart had moved up the ramp I attached an accurate meter rule to the ramp and put my eyes inline with the ramp to see exactly where the cart had reached on the ramp.  I also made sure all measurements were as accurate as possible so I used a protractor to measure the angle between the bench and the ramp, which measured as 10o, as well as this I used an accurate ruler to measure the distance form the top of the ramp to the bench.  I also measured the mass of the cart on scales, which was 830g and the elastic constant of the spring measured was 15.2N/m.


I carried out the experiment as explained in the method.  As shown in the data recorded in the graph above there is definitely a trend.

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e every 2cm rather than every 5cm.  Thirdly, I could have use a different spring, either made of a different material (e.g. wood), a different width, a different length or even a different elastic constant.  This would show me how the gravitational potential differs with differing springs.  Swapping the dependent and independent variables around could be another way of finding out further information about the energy of a spring, i.e. the dependent would be the distance the cart moves up the ramp and the independent variable would be the distance the spring in extended.   I could also change the mass of the cart by adding weights or taking away some weight form the cart to see if this would affect the results.  It might also be that the temperature and pressure of the room in which the experiment was carried out in might have affected the results we obtained, as the wheels might have expanded or contracted.

Overall I think that the results I obtained from this experiment are precise enough for me to justify a conclusion.  This is because the line of best fit goes through most of the point on the graph and that the two anomalous results are clearly anomalous and not that I drew the wrong line of best fit.  I can firmly say that the graph possesses a very strong correlation line.

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