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An Investigation into the factors that effect the acceleration of a falling object.

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Stacey GoodwinSC1

An Investigation into the factors that effect the
acceleration of a falling object                                      


The aim of this experiment is to relate the height of a drop and the time it takes for a paper cake case to fall the distance of 4.4m down the drop.  From my results, I can calculate the speed, the acceleration and also the value of the gravitational field strength.

This experiment was first conducted in the 17th century by an Italian natural philosopher called Galileo. He believed that the speed of free falling objects increased in proportion to the time it took to fall (that they accelerated uniformly).
He came up with this:

                                       Distance is directly proportional toTime

This expression replaces the speed with the distance and the time.  Both of these quantities can be measured.  In the 17
th Century, there wasn’t the technology to measure the time it took for an object to fall freely, accurately.  

Preliminary Results:
I did some preliminary work to find out suitable variables I could change during the experiment and also what I should keep constant.  First of all I set up my equipment.  I then took readings, including repeat readings, of various masses and surface areas.

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3.29 s

2.98 s

3.65 s

2.03 s

1.32 s


3.21 s

2.85 s

3.56 s

1.99 s

1.27 s

      As you can see from the table above, I decided to test which variables changed in proportion.  My results show that more can be seen from a change in mass rather than a change in shape from the height that was involved.  This may be because there was no air-resistance on the objects which meant surface area didn’t have much effect on the falling rate.  When adding another paper case each time, it is easy to notice that the mass alters the results each time by making the object fall slightly quicker.
      After doing the preliminary work, I have decided that I am going to investigate why the change in mass increases the falling rate.  I have chosen to do this because there is an obvious alteration in each increase of mass and by the end I will be able to see the increase in speed, acceleration and see if the gravitational field strength turns out accurately.
      The only variables in this experiment will be the mass and the time.  I will keep everything else, like the height of the drop, constant.

Apparatus:        Paper Cake Cases
                       Stop Clock

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               I think that the experiment went quite well as there wasn’t any anomalies in my results, but if I was doing it again I would alter a few things.  If I repeated it, I would add more paper cases to give a wider range of results, and I would also drop the objects from a higher distance so that it takes longer to reach the bottom giving it a more accurate reading.  I would also change location as the height I dropped the paper cases from was near a door and so occasionally let in a slight draft.  This could have easily influenced the paper cases as they only weighed 0.2 grams each.
                My prediction proved to be quite alike to my final conclusion.  I knew that as more weight was added to the experiment, the time taken for it to reach the floor would be quicker due to inaccuracy of the experiment and Newton’s 2
nd Law

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