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Investigating what affects the time taken for a paper helicopter to reach the ground.

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GCSE Physics CourseworkNtami Egbe


I am investigating what affects the time taken for a paper helicopter to reach the ground


The variables in the experiment that I have found are: distance from the ground, weight of the helicopter and surface area of wings.

The variable I have chosen to alter in my investigation is the surface area of the wings.


To carry out the investigation I will need to have the following equipment:




A3 paper

4m ruler


Paper clips

Top pan balance

My helicopter will be constructed as shown in the diagram above

To collect my I will be dropping my helicopter from 4m and will record the times with a stopwatch. I have chosen to drop the helicopter from 4m, because in our preliminary studies we discovered that 2m or 3m didn’t give the helicopter enough time to begin rotating, and at such a short height the human reaction time proved to slow by 0.15 of a second, which made our result less accurate. 4m allowed all the above to happen without discounting our results

My prediction

...read more.






Average time (s)


4.82 s

2.68 s

3.03 s

3.51 s


2.43 s

2.31 s

2.36 s

2.36 s


2.06 s

2.13 s

2.23 s

2.14 s


1.89 s

2.03 s

1.98 s

1.97 s


1.56 s

1.68 s

1.78 s

1.67 s


The pattern shown in the graph is that as the surface area of the helicopter decreased so did the time taken for the helicopter to reach the ground the graph has a smooth curve and seems to fit a pattern, apart from one point, which seems to be an anomaly at 3.51s. It seems to far out, and if this point was at maybe 2.85s then it would fit with the smooth curve, and not seem as disjointed.

...read more.


Anomalous results:

Because my results weren’t totally accurate I did experience anomalous results. The result 4.82s was an anomaly because it’s almost double the lowest reading of 2.68s. This caused the average to be 3.51, while an average of 2.90 would look more reasonable.


I think that my investigation went well and that for a further I would like to look at a different variable like weight perhaps. If I could improve my experiment I would use more accurate equipment and do more  readings if possible. I would choose an area that was flat so I wouldn’t have any difficulties and problems with steps, that would improve the accuracy of the results. I would also construct more than one helicopter, but they would all have the same weight. I would make more than one because when the helicopter was falling it became damaged, and this would affect the results. The conclusion I have deduced is: as surface area decreases as does the time taken for a paper helicopter to fall 4m.

...read more.

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