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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Maths
  • Word count: 2137

Investigate the factors affecting the motion of a trolley.

Extracts from this document...


Dhruv Shah        Physics Coursework 2003        Mr. Hunter

Physics Investigation: Motion of a Trolley


Aim:        To investigate the factors affecting the motion of a trolley.


                Forces affect the motion of a trolley. There are two main forces which affect it and these are friction and gravity. Friction allows the wheels of the trolley to grip the surface of the ramp which it is travelling on. Also the trolley will slow down because of the resistance of the air as the shape of the trolley is not very aero dynamic. Friction is what allows the trolley to come to a stop. Gravity (the downward force) is responsible for making the trolley move as it pulls it down towards the centre of the earth. As there is no way the trolley can go through the slope it has to travel down it. The steeper the slope, the faster the trolley will go because there will be less time taken for the trolley to reach the bottom.

Key Variables:

  • The surface of the ramp:

        This is a key factor because if there is a smoother slope, there will be less friction and so the trolley will travel faster. This will be kept constant.

  • The height of the ramp:

        The greater the gradient, the faster the trolley will move down the ramp because it will be steeper. The lower the gradient, the slower the trolley will travel.

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The results of the preliminary support my prediction as the graph shows that there is a strong negative correlation saying that as the height increases, the time decreases.

The second graph also strongly supports my prediction that with a higher ramp, the speed will be higher because less time will be required for the trolley to reach the bottom. There is a general curve showing that as the height of the ramp increases, so does the speed of the trolley.


        I believe that the experiment has worked successfully and that no changes or improvements need to be made.

Further work:

        In the main experiment I will be working out the average speeds to see whether the height of the ramp is directly proportional to the speed of the trolley. In order to work this out I will be dividing the distance by the time.

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        The reasons for these few inaccurate results may have been as followed:

  • The trolley may have been pushed slightly at the beginning therefore giving it an advantage.
  • The apparatus might not have been set up correctly meaning that results could have been abnormal.
  • The height of the trolley might not have been measured correctly and therefore, with a greater height, the trolley would have gone faster with a lower time.

        As there were only three anomalies, I can say that the results obtained are reliable to the extent that a clear conclusion can be made from them. I believe that the results obtained do strongly support my conclusion and that further results do not need to be taken apart from the three anomalies which should be repeated.

Further work:

        In addition to the experiment, further work does not need to be done. However to obtain more evidence to support my predictions and possibly to make another prediction, I would also vary another variable. The variable I would choose to vary would add a weight to the trolley pulling it down the ramp. This would speed it up and I would vary the amount of weights. To obtain good results I would drop the weight down onto the floor from a string attached to the trolley with the help of a pulley. With more weights, I would predict that the trolley would go faster down the slope and therefore there would be a lower time.

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