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Craters Coursework

Extracts from this document...


Miles Beardsley

Physics Craters Coursework

Preliminary work:

I am investigating the change in crater size when a ball bearing of the same size is dropped from different heights into a tray of sand.

        The physics which may be relevant is gravitational potential energy (mgh) and work done.

There are a number of factors which may affect the experiment.  These are: density of sand, size/weight of ball and height at which the ball is released from.  The thing I will change in my investigation is height at which the ball is released from.


Apparatus: tray of sand, ruler, clamp and clamp stand, callipers, magnet, ball, another larger tray to put the tray of sand into.



  • Clamp the ruler up so the 0cm end of the ruler is level with the surface of the sand.
  • Look at the ruler and find the correct height measurement at which you are required to drop the ball from.
  • Line the bottom of the ball up with the height on the ruler
  • Drop the ball
  • Then use the magnet to lift the ball carefully from the crater
  • Use the callipers to record accurate measurements.
  • Then level the sand and continue with the rest of the heights

I will measure the length from the undisturbed sand to the undisturbed sand either side of the crater created:

To make sure these readings are accurate I will use a calliper to take the readings across the crater.

...read more.


Distance measured (mm)









(Graph on attached page)

From these readings I have decided to take readings at 10cm intervals and I will record readings from balls being dropped up to the height of 60cm as I think going any higher will not help me to find a conclusion from my data.


I predict that the distance from one side of the crater will increase as the height the ball is released from increases:

The reason for this is because when the ball is dropped from a higher height each time it will have more gravitational potential energy and therefore will create a bigger crater.  Sending a shock through the sand and pushing the sand out around the hole produced.  This creates a mound around the hole.  The mound produced will be bigger as the height increases.


...read more.


I think that my results were reasonably reliable and accurate.  I have not found any anomalous readings and this shows that the results collected were accurate enough.  However there was a scope for improvement.  To make the experiment more accurate with the same apparatus I could have emptied the sand container as previously mentioned.  This would have made sure that the sand was roughly the same density throughout.  If I was to repeat the experiment with different apparatus I would use digital callipers to obtain more accurate readings as the callipers I used were not accurate enough as the small numbers were hard to read.  I would also use a better system to measure where I was dropping the ball in the box of sand as mentioned above, for example dropping the ball down a tube.

Further work:  I would do an experiment measuring the depth of the crater.  This would allow me to show that distance across the crater is proportional to depth.  To do this and obtain a high quality of results I would have to use new sand every time and pour water into the sand to make it denser.  This would allow me to remove the ball with the magnet and thus measure the depth of the crater.  But this would mean using new sand every time as I would not be sure as to how much water remained in the sand after each experiment due to evaporation etc.

...read more.

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