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Making sense of data - For my Physics coursework I was given the results of an experiment.

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Introduction

Physics coursework - Making sense of data For my Physics coursework I was given the results of an experiment, which involved rolling two differently sized balls (initially 3 however one was marble and did not work with the light gate because it gave 2 readings as it reflected light) one small, silver, with a diameter of 0.006 m and weighing 0.00708 kg and one large, slightly rusty, with a diameter of 0.011 m and weighing 0.01672 kg, down a ramp from different heights and measuring the velocity they travelled at using a light gate, connected to a computer which worked out how long the light beam was broken for. The diagram bellow shows how the experiment was set up: I then had to decided what I was going to use these results for, I decided that I would use them to see if the height the ball is dropped from effects the amount of energy change by working out the difference of potential energy and kinetic energy of the ball. This would mean I would have the amount of energy at the start from calculating potential energy, then the amount of energy at the end of rolling it down the ramp by calculating kinetic energy. I could then find the amount of energy change by subtracting kinetic energy from potential energy. ...read more.

Middle

Kinetic energy (J) Difference (J) 0.10 0.72 0.72 0.71 0.72 0.0164 0.0043 0.0121 0.12 0.77 0.76 0.75 0.76 0.0197 0.0048 0.0148 0.14 0.81 0.82 0.82 0.82 0.0229 0.0056 0.0174 0.16 0.87 0.87 0.87 0.87 0.0262 0.0063 0.0199 0.18 0.95 0.90 0.93 0.93 0.0295 0.0072 0.0223 0.20 1.01 1.00 0.99 1.00 0.0328 0.0084 0.0244 0.22 1.05 1.05 1.04 1.05 0.0360 0.0092 0.0269 0.24 1.11 1.09 1.08 1.09 0.0393 0.0100 0.0293 0.26 1.13 1.12 1.13 1.13 0.0426 0.0106 0.0320 0.28 1.16 1.17 1.15 1.16 0.0459 0.0112 0.0346 0.30 1.19 1.19 1.19 1.19 0.0492 0.0118 0.0373 I have one odd result for the small ball at height 0.22 m on test 3. I have left this out of the mean result. This anomaly could of occurred from not being exact when measuring the height the ball was dropped from, or from putting a force on it when rolling it down the ramp. Analysis My results show that my prediction was correct. My graphs show that as the height dropped from gets higher the more energy is lost. My graphs also match my predicted graphs with a straight line and the larger ball having higher values than the smaller ball. I think this is because as the ball has more distance to roll it has more time to lose energy in the forms of heat sound and moving air out of the way which makes the velocity slower. ...read more.

Conclusion

I had one problem at the start when the third ball I wanted to use reflected light so it could not be used in the light gate as it gave two readings, so I could only use 2 balls. I also had problems using the spreadsheets, as I had not done many calculations before, however I soon got the hang of them and could use them to work out the calculations for potential energy and kinetic energy. I also had the problem that the experiment may not be accurate because as the ball is dropped it may have had force exerted onto it altering the results. Using some kind of gate to let the balls drop down the ramp themselves, making sure no force was exerted on them, could combat this. I could improve the experiment I did by making sure the third ball I used was suitable with the light gate by making sure its surface did not reflect light. I would additionally improve it by using a gate of some sort to let the balls run out so that it would not be possible to put any extra force on them as I state above, this would also make sure that the ball was dropped from the right height. I would also try and make sure that nothing else would interrupt the light gate maybe by making sure that the light in the room was at a constant level by closing blinds. This would reduce the errors in my results. ...read more.

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