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investigating terminal velocity

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Introduction

Science Coursework

In this experiment I am investigating terminal velocity using paper cake cases.   Terminal velocity is when two forces which are working against each, other on a moving object, are the same force. Therefore the object has reached its top speed as it will be unable 2 accelerate anymore, this is known as terminal velocity.

Planning

In this experiment I am planning on measuring the terminal velocity created by paper cake cases when dropped in the air. I will measure the case/cases from different heights and analyse whether these variables have an effect on the terminal velocity.

In this experiment there are several variables which can be changed in order to complete my investigation. However I will concentrate on two and use them as the variables which I will change. The possible variables are:

  • Height the paper case is dropped from
  • Weight of the paper case
  • Force the case is dropped with
  • Surface area / shape
  • Orientation
  • Indoor / outdoors
  • Environment e.g. windy

The two variables which I have chosen are the height the paper case is dropped from and the weight of the paper cake case. I have chosen these as I will hopefully be able to see clear correlation on my graphs by using these variables, therefore making them easier to analyse. During each experiment I will only be changing 1 variable and keeping all the others constant.

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Middle

0.43

110cm

0.54

0.62

0.66

0.61

130cm

0.53

0.57

0.59

0.56

150cm

0.81

0.87

0.78

0.82

170cm

0.81

0.84

0.97

0.87

190cm

1.1

0.81

1.22

1.04

5 paper cases

Height dropped from (cm)

Drop 1 (secs)

Drop 2 (secs)

Drop 3 (secs)

Average (secs)

50cm

0.28

0.44

0.53

0.416

70cm

0.79

0.62

0.5

0.63

90cm

0.5

0.38

0.56

0.48

110cm

0.65

0.64

0.85

0.71

130cm

0.71

0.76

0.6

0.69

150cm

0.81

0.94

0.84

0.86

170cm

0.75

0.79

0.85

0.8

190cm

0.87

0.93

0.94

0.91

7 paper cases

 Height dropped from (cm)

Drop 1 (secs)

Drop 2 (secs)

Drop 3 (secs)

Average (secs)

50cm

0.46

0.56

0.59

0.54

70cm

0.47

0.34

0.44

0.42

90cm

0.53

0.65

0.5

0.56

110cm

0.85

0.41

0.47

0.58

130cm

0.56

0.62

0.5

0.56

150cm

0.56

0.66

0.93

0.72

170cm

0.69

0.75

0.72

0.72

190cm

0.6

1.06

0.75

0.8

9 paper cases

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Conclusion

st drop at 70 cm with 5 cases is almost 0.3 seconds slower than 5 cases dropped at 90 cm. Another example of anomalous results comes when 7 cases are dropped  at 150 cm on the 3rd drop where it took 0.93 seconds to reach the floor compared with 0.56 and 0.66 with drops 1 and 2 respectively. The result from drop 3 is almost double that of drop 1 which suggests that there may have been a problem during the drop. The equipment which I have used is very reliable. I know this as I used the same equipment for each test. This is to make sure that I avoid getting different results due to the different equipment. I have also stuck with the same method to make sure that the results I get are reliable. In order to improve this investigation I think that by repeating the exercise more times per drop would give me a more accurate average which anomalous results don’t effect as much. Another improvement which would help me gain more accurate and reliable results would be if I used light sensors to record the time between when the paper cases are dropped and when they reach the floor. This would be more accurate than having someone timing with a stopwatch as the sensors will be able to get the exact time whereas humans are not able to continuously do this.

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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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