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Investigation on how putting springs in series and parallel affects their extension.

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Gemma Hillidge                                                               G.C.S.E Physics Coursework

 Investigation on how putting springs in series and parallel affects their extension



In order to find out how putting springs in series of parallel affects the extension of the spring I will use Hooke’s law. Hooke’s law states that the force applied to a spring is proportional to its extension, so long as the limit of elasticity is not exceeded. This can be written Tα . This statement of proportionality can be used to write an equation of proportionality: T=k. k represents the spring constant or stiffness of the spring. To find out how the extension of the springs is affected by putting the springs in series or parallel I will set up an experiment involving putting weights on a single spring, two springs in parallel and two springs in series.

Single Spring       Two Springs in Series        Two Springs in Parallel



I researched this topic in the textbook “Advanced Physics by Keith Gibbs” and I found that the equation used to find the spring constant is

 k =image03.pngimage03.pngimage03.png

l        ,

which means the spring constant can be calculated by dividing the modulus of elasticity by the length of the spring. All springs have a different spring constant and the higher the spring constant, the lower the extension. Two springs put into series have a different spring constant than two springs in parallel.

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How I obtained my results

I obtained my results by measuring the extension of the springs after each 1N of force was added. I measured this distance in mm using a meter stick. I chose millimeters to be relevant precision as the starting length of the springs was only quite small. I used copper wire to attach the hook with the weights on to the bottom of the spring; this ensured that the weights were balanced properly. After I had added each extra weight to the springs, I gently lowered them down to prevent them from losing balance. I took a repeat set of results for each set of springs to ensure the reliability of my findings. I took readings of the extension of springs in parallel and a single spring when forces of 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 7 Newtons are applied to them but I only went up to 4N when applying force to two springs in series as they will have a lower limit of elasticity. If I were to exceed this limit any readings I took after the limit was exceeded would be inaccurate.

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Some further work I could do to prove my theory about springs in series and parallel would be measuring the extension of three or more springs in series or parallel. Or I could even investigate the limit of elasticity of springs in series and in parallel. If three springs in series extend three times as much as one single spring, and three springs in parallel extend a third as much as a single spring then this would support my findings in this investigation.

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