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What affects the kinetic energy of a trolley?

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Daniel Cheetham - Science Physics

What affects the kinetic energy of a trolley?

In this experiment I will be trying to see if the amount a spring is compressed affects the speed of a Trolley when released against the trolley. I’ll be using a ‘light gate’ attached to a time to help me to find out how fast the trolley passes the light gate out, from this I will be able to figure out the speed and how much Kinetic energy the trolley has.


To see if the amount a spring is compressed by affects the speed of the trolley pushed by the spring.  I will also be looking to see if I can find any patterns in the results I get and see if there is any way I can predict what.

Independent Variable:
In this experiment I will have only one independent variable, which I will change though out the experiment. The independent variable will be how much the spring is compressed, each time I compress the spring I will increase it by another centimetre until I have done it from 1 – 15 cm. From this

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Also if I double the compression I’d double the amount of kinetic energy used. E.g. 1cm would be 10j, 2cm would be 20j, 3cm would be 40j and 4cm would be 80j etc

I did this experiment using a computer simulation but if I would of done this experiment to keep it a fair test I would of made sure that each time I did the test I’d only change in independent variables. I would of started by setting a spring loaded plunger behind a Trolley so I’ll be able to set the spring up compressed at different amounts, that when released will push the trolley, as the trolley is travelling I’ll read the amount of time that the trolley takes to pass a light gate and then from the amount of time it took to pass the light gate, I can work out how fast the trolley was travelling at.

Each time I’d do the experiment again I’d increase the amount that the spring is compressed, I would increased it by another Centimetre, by doing this I’d be

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I could try adding on another variable, this variable could be the distance that the trolley travels; this would help me see if the amount the spring was compressed by affects the distance that the trolley would travel or if it just changes the speed that the trolley travels at.

Another improvement I could make is by testing to see if when I double the amount spring is compressed by, always doubles the speed, e.g. would the speed of the trolley when the spring is compressed at ten centimetres be half the amount of when it’s compressed by 20cm.

Extending the experiment:
One extension to the experiment that I could do is by seeing if the weight oft eh trolley affects the speed it travels at. To do this I’d have to test the spring compressed at each amount at several times, each time adding a set amount of weight.

By doing this it could help me to find out two things. The first one being seeing if the speed is affected, if Trolley’s weight had changed the Trolleys speed The other one being to see if there is more of less kinetic energy in the trolley, if the speed is less there should be less kinetic energy.

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