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The aim of this investigation is to investigate the effect of adding varying weights to the end of a wooden ruler at different ruler lengths.

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Physics Coursework: Ruler Investigation.


The aim of this investigation is to investigate the effect of adding varying weights to the end of a wooden ruler at different ruler lengths.

        I predict that as the weight increases on the ruler the more it will sag and the more it will sag each time, demonstrated by this rough graph:


There should be a strong positive correlation between the sag and the force

I predict this because of the rule of compression and tension; as more force is exerted vertically onto the end of a ruler, the top face becomes tense and the bottom face becomes compressed. The explanation of this will be in my conclusion. I also make this prediction using the formula of moments:

Moment of a force (Nm) = force (N) x perpendicular distance from the pivot (m)

This will also be explained in my conclusion.

        (The diagram of my method is shown above next to my predicted graph shape). A wooden metre rule will be clamped onto a table using a G – clamp with a certain distance sticking out from the table. Another metre rule will be clamped with a retort stand at right angles to the floor so to measure the sag of the other ruler. The weights will be added to the ruler at three different lengths they will be added in one hundred gram amounts for each length (of the ruler)

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Sag (cm)







        A graph showing these results:


To conclude my plan; these results lead me to believe that there was a relationship between the sag of the ruler and the force added to the end of it worth investigating and these results formed the basis of my investigation.  


The experiment was carried out and three sets of results were taken for each quantity of weight and an average was taken for each set of three results.

        The results are shown in the table on the following page:

This table can be summarised by these three graphs that show the average sag of the ruler at 90cm 70cm or 50cm against the force in Newton’s:


It’s very evident that there is obviously a strong positive correlation between the sag (or depression) of the ruler used and the amount of force exerted on it. So therefore this experiment of mine will not have to be repeated because the relationship is as expected for all of these graphs.    



I conclude, generally, that there is a strong correlation between the sag and the force exerted on the ruler and that this point is helped proven by the line of best fit running through the points on my graph; they are straight and therefore indicate that the sag is directly proportional to force exerted on the ruler.

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        When carrying out this investigation certain difficulties were encountered: it was hard to set up the vertically mounted ruler for measurements and the sagging ruler at an accurate length, there was also difficulty in measuring the sag as the ruler with the weights on tended to oscillate up and down and therefore making the sag harder to read.

        If I were to repeat the experiment then I would change my method slightly; I think I would use a steel ruler as well as the wooden one and take readings using a spirit level so to increase the accuracy of my investigation for reasons already explained.

        To make the investigation more accurate and to obtain more evidence I would have to have collected more data for all the different lengths. This would make me surer of my conclusion as it would show that my conclusion can be more widely applied.                  

...read more.

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