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In this piece of Coursework, my aim is to find out why and how certain factors affect the speed of a trolley at the end of a ramp.

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Introduction

Alex Hall – RT2 - 03/05/07

Investigate the factors, which affect the speed of a trolley at the end of a ramp

Skill P:  Planning

In this piece of Coursework, my aim is to find out why and how certain factors affect the speed of a trolley at the end of a ramp.

Gravitational Potential Energy ( GPE ) is best described using the example of a diver.  The diver climbs up the ladder to the top of a diving board.  In order to get up to that height he uses mgh amount of Energy.  Where m=his mass, g=gravitational field strength and h=vertical height climbed.  When the diver stands on top of the diving board, he has mgh potential energy.  For this example we will say that the diver’s mass is 80kg, and the height he is jumping from is 10 meters.  We can therefore say that mgh = 80 x 10 x 10 = 8000J.  So the diver’s GPE at the top of the diving board is 8000J.  As a diver, we expect him to jump off the end of the board.

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Middle

There are five variables that will affect the speed of a trolley.

  • Height of Ramp – the higher the ramp, the greater the vertical height.  As we know from scientific knowledge, the greater the height, the more potential energy the trolley gains and therefore the faster it will travel.
  • Surface of Ramp – this is largely to do with friction.  If for example, we used carpet as our ramp, there would be more friction and the trolley would travel slower; if however, we used plastic, there would be less friction and the trolley would travel quicker.
  • Bearings on Wheels – if there are no bearings on the wheels of a trolley, then the wheels will not turn as easily as if there were bearings.
  • Mass of Trolley – the heavier the trolley, the more GPE it has at the top of the ramp, therefore the greater the kinetic energy at the end.
  • Length of Runway – this allows the trolley to build up more speed if on a long runway.

I did some preliminary work, to try and find out which variable to use for my Coursework.

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Conclusion

  • Trolley
  • Ramp
  • Retort Stand
  • Light Gate
  • Connecting wires
  • Power Supply
  • Clock that is started by light gate
  • Ruler

Below is a diagram showing how my apparatus will be set up.


Method

1. Set out equipment as shown in the diagram.

2. Measure the height at the top of the ramp; our first height will be 0.05m.

3. Make sure that there are no extra weights attached to the trolley.

4. Hold the trolley with its front touching the start line, and aimed towards the light gate.

5. Let go of the trolley, being careful not to help it on its way by giving it a little push.

6. Ensure that the trolley passes through the light gate.

7. When the trolley has passed through the light gate, we will record the time taken for the 20cm card to pass the distance.

8. Repeat from stage 4 twice more so we will end up with three results for the same height then continue onto stage 9.

9. Add all these results together and divide the answer by three to obtain the average.

10. Record all results and the average in a table.

11. Raise the height again with the retort stand to the second height

12. Repeat from step 4 until we have obtained results for heights from 0.05m through to 0.45mm

...read more.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Height and Weight of Pupils and other Mayfield High School investigations section.

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