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An investigation to find the stopping distance of a margarine tub.

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Science coursework

An investigation to find the stopping distance of a margarine tub


Aim: I am trying to find out the stopping distance of a margarine tub when changing the mass.

Variables:I will change the mass of the margarine tub. I will measure the distance the tub travels. To make it a fair test I will keep the margarine tub the same. I will also keep the force I use to pull back the elastic band the same, and will do the experiment on the floor – keeping the surface the same.  

Prediction: I think that the bigger the mass of the margarine tub the shorter the distance it will travel. I predict this because I know that friction will be caused.

  Friction is resistance of the motion of one surface over another. Most surfaces are not smooth. The ridges in the 2 surfaces catch against each other – causing friction.

Newton’s second Law of motion:

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Because these results are quite short distances I have decided to use smaller masses to see a wider range of distances. I am going to use 50g – 300g, going up in 50g steps.

Step by step instructions:

 Set up equipment as shown in diagram.

 Tape a 50g mass in the margarine tub.

 Pull the elastic band back using a force of 5 N.

 Let the elastic band go and measure and record the distance that the margarine tub travels, from the front leg of the stool to the back of the margarine tub.

 Repeat this 2 more times for the 50g mass.

 Repeat this process for each mass – 100g, 150g, 200g, etc.

  I will collect accurate results by repeating results and calculating the averages. I am going to do this because although I will measure as accurate as possible it is possible that the margarine tub may not travel in a straight line etc.

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  My results showed a clear pattern (the bigger the mass the shorter the stopping distance.)

  I believe that my results were quite accurate. There were no obvious exceptions, as all my results fall close to the best-fit line on my graph, and this was quite easy to draw. To make my results more reliable I also took an average of 3 readings for each mass.

 I think that my results are quite reliable. For example the results of the mass 250g were 10cm, 9cm, and 8 cm, when a force of 5n is applied. These are quite consistent, because all 3 are close to the average of 9cm.

What went wrong?

  The experiment went fine. The only main problem we had was that we found it hard to get the margarine tub to travel in a straight direction. To overcome this we did 3 tries rather than1 or 2 to try and make the results more accurate.

How could you improve then investigation?

  To improve the investigation we could measure the results to the nearest 0.5cm, making the measurements even more accurate.

...read more.

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