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Factors affecting acceleration

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Factors affecting acceleration

I intend to investigate what factors affect the acceleration of a toy car down a ramp.  I will measure how long the car takes to roll down a ramp, and my other variable will be to measure the final velocity of the car rolling down the ramp.  Using this information I will then be able to work out the acceleration as the car travels down the ramp.  I will be able to work out the velocity of the car, and therefore be able to work out the acceleration using a different formula.

I will conduct two experiments and for both there will be only one variable with everything else fixed.  In the first experiment, my variable will be the mass of the toy car which rolls down the ramp.  In the second experiment, I will keep the mass of the toy car the same but change the angle of the ramp that the ball bearing rolls down.

In this experiment the only factor I will change will be the mass of the car which travels down the ramp.


To do this experiment, I will need to use the following equipment:

  • a wooden ramp (about 1.5m in length),
  • a stand,
  • a toy car
  • a stop watch.

...read more.


  • a wooden ramp (about 1.5m in length),
  • a stand,
  • a toy car
  • a stop watch.

The set up of the apparatus is the same as the last experiment.  The ramp will be initially set up to get a 35° angle.  From the previous experiment I know that to achieve a 35° angle the ramp will be set up 68.83cm off the ground.  The same method will be used as before.  I will use the same toy car which weighs 28g each time even though all masses should accelerate at the same rate.

                                                Distance travelled in a given direction (m)

1. Velocity (m.s-1)  =                                           Time taken (s)

As in last experiment

                                                                         Change in velocity (m.s-1)

2. Acceleration (m.s-2)  =                          Time taken for the change (s)

I will do this with five different angles.  I will use the angles 15°, 25°, 35°, 45°, and 55°.  From my preliminary work, these seemed like a good range of angles to use. To make it a fair test I will need to release each ball from the same spot on the ramp.    

I already know the initial velocity to be zero, so using the final velocity and the time it takes the ball to roll down the ramp; I can work out the acceleration of the car.

...read more.


In my prediction I was very close to the actual results, as I knew that all objects accelerated at the same rate and as I knew that at 90ÿ it accelerated at 9.8m.s-2 so by dividing the acceleration at 90ÿ by 90 I could tell the acceleration at 1ÿ would be 0.108m.s.-2 so by multiplying by 5 I could find out what the acceleration should be for all of the ball bearings.


I think the experiment was carried out successfully when I drew my graph I could spot no anomalous results, however this may have been because I used data from the results that I believed to be accurate, thus ignoring any anomalies right at the beginning of processing the results.  If I were to do this experiment again I would use electrodes placed close together either side of the base of the ramp.  And as the toy car rolls over them the circuit is completed and starts the stop watch.  As it then rolls over the second set, it again completes the circuit and stops the clock.

When the variable was the mass of the ball I had to repeat one of my readings when the ramp slipped this should not have been a problem but I did not fasten the clamp enough.

Future experiment improvement

I could take more readings to iron out any anomalous results and get a more definite average.

...read more.

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