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What affects the stopping distance of a vehicle?

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What affects the stopping distance

of a vehicle?

Aim: - To carry out an experiment to show us what affects the stopping distance of a small wooden trolley when it is pulled back a certain distance by an elastic catapult and has varying brake force.

I could have chosen many different variables from the following- weight of the brakes, weight of the trolley, mass of the trolley, gradient of the slope, air resistance, elasticity of the catapult, the distance the catapult is pulled back. However I decided to vary the weight acting on the brakes – therefore gradually increasing the force and resistance on the brakes and making the trolley stop in shorter distance. The rest of these possible variables will stay constant and unchanged. I decided not to use a variable which would mean we had to record the time because this would be more difficult to record, therefore more likely to be inaccurate. Braking distance is what we are dealing with.


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1.75             1.71               1.79               1.75

secs             secs                secs               secs

It took an average of 1.75 seconds to travel the distance of the ramp from the catapult to the end.

Example: -  If the trolley I was using weighed 50gms and travels a maximum speed of 5.0 meters a second I would know the kinetic energy the trolley had transformed is 625 Joules

K.E.      =  25 Kg x 5²

= 25 Kg x 25

= 625 Joules

Prediction: - The more pressure being put onto the brake block, the less distance it will take to stop the trolley

Picture: -

Potential energy that is stored in the elastic (when it is pulled back 27cm (7.5 Newtons of force) and when the elastic is released it is changed into kinetic energy which moves the trolley along the ramp. The brake force comes into action when the catapult is no longer touching the trolley and there is no slack in the brake ribbon. The amount of weights acting on the brake block determines how quickly the trolley will stop.

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Conclusion: - The evidence shows that my prediction was right and the weight on the brake block has a considerable effect on how quickly the trolley will stop moving forward; the greater the weight, the shorter the stopping distance.

Evaluation: - The test went well. If I were to do it again I would probably test different sorts of brakes to discover which were the most effective.

We could have done more than 3 tries for the test, which would have made the average more accurate (although it is quite accurate already.) I might redo the 200gram experiment again as this is the most varied of all of the results from the 3 tries. By using brand new equipment I could have made the results more consistent.

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