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Gravity and Acceleration

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Gravity and Acceleration

Aim: To show that the acceleration of a freely falling body is equal to the gravitational pull of the Earth. To give a comparison of the various values obtained using different methods and show how external factors play a role in the measurement of the acceleration of a body.

Hypothesis: If a body is dropped from a height then its acceleration will be equal to the gravitational pull of the earth because a freely falling body is attracted towards the earth due to its gravity independent of the mass of the object and neglecting air resistance.

Abstract: In this experiment the following principles will be investigated.

  • If an object held near the surface of the earth is released, it will fall and accelerate, or pick up speed, as it descends. This acceleration is caused by gravity, the force of attraction between the object and the earth.
  • Falling objects accelerate in response to the force exerted on them by Earth’s gravity. Different objects accelerate at the same rate, regardless of their mass.

Microsoft® Encarta® Reference Library 2003. © 1993-2002 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Given below is the table of the readings taken using the photogate for acceleration of the picket fence. The graph obtained using the photogate shows a reading of 9.985m/s.

Logger Pro Column Data:

Time        GateState        Distance         Velocity            Acceleration

s                                     m                    m/s                m/s²

0.0212828        1        0                

0.0431212        0                        

0.0628832        1        0.05                1.4057                 9.799

0.0790828        0                        

0.0948828        1        0.1                1.7219                   9.96

0.1083        0                        

0.121821        1        0.15                1.987              9.78

0.13352        0                        

0.145584        1        0.2                2.2248           10.16

0.156083        0                        

0.167009        1        0.25                2.439                     9.83

0.176583        0                        

0.186725        1        0.3                

0.195618        0                        


While using the logger pro software the picket fence was released half way after the time limit.

The laser of the photogate must be cut by the picket fence before it is released.

Ticker Tape:


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Where M is the mass of the trolley, m is the mass of the weight,   a is the acceleration and g is the gravitational pull.

   = (0.96 – 0.1) 0.375/0.1 = 3.225m/s2

Error %= 9.8-3.225/9.8 * 100 = 67.09%

According to this value of acceleration the value of g should be 3.225m/s2 which proves that there are errors in the experiment.

The reason for this is that the weight is not allowed to freely fall and this causes a variation in the acceleration.


From the above experiments we can see that acceleration of a freely falling body would be equal to gravity if it wasn’t for the external factors the variables. One of the main factors is air resistance.

Also the value for the photogate is much more accurate as air resistance is low and there is no friction involved.


  • Weight used in the ticker tape experiment must not be too heavy.
  • If the ticker tape were to be removed then the results could be more accurate.
  • The length to be covered by the trolley before it stops must be increased.
  • The whole pulley system could be eliminated and only the weight and the ticker tape could be used. The weight can be released and the ticker tape fixed to it. This will give us the acceleration during freefall.

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