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What affects the speed of a moving vehicle?

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What affects the speed of a moving vehicle?



The aim of our investigation was to find out what variables affect the speed of a moving vehicle. We chose to investigate the effect of gradient change on a moving vehicle.


The independent variable in our experiment is the gradient of the ramp.

The dependant variable is the speed of the trolley.




  1. First we will set up the equipment carefully and safely.
  2. Then we let go of the trolley at the top of the ramp, being sure not to push the ramp (or it would not produce a fair test).
  3. Next we will record the speed taken by the computer into our table of results (see below).
  4. We will repeat the experiment four times at each gradient to gain a good range of accurate and reliable readings.
  5. We will test the trolley at seven different gradients to get adequate results.

We decided that in our experiment we would measure the speed of the trolley in m/s.

...read more.








We found that the trolley only began to move after a minimum of five books had been placed under the ramp.

        We also used the preliminary experiment to find out what intervals to use, we decided to use intervals of 5 books each time as this would produce more dramatic results

...read more.


recorded by a computer via light gates, we could not have timed the trolley so accurately using stop clocks or other devices.

        Our results cover a wide range which supports our conclusion and allows us to see the shape of the graph easily. Using the graph we could predict other values for new gradients.


Possible causes of error could include

  1. The force on the trolley being pushed down the ramp
  2. Wind in the form of a light breeze assisting the trolley along the ramp

Improvements to make the method more reliable could include using the same person each time to let go of the trolley to ensure that the same force was exerted on the trolley each go

Further work to extend the investigation could include experimenting with the mass of the trolley by using weights to see how they affect the trolley, or measuring the acceleration of a trolley with a changing gradient (rather than measuring the speed).

...read more.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Gradient Function section.

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