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How does the drop height of a small and a large marble affect the size of the crater created in sand?

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Physics Coursework

Physics coursework


How does the drop height of a small and a large marble affect the size of the crater created in sand?


  1. Meter ruler
  2. Small 15cm ruler
  3. Clamp stand
  4. 1 small marble and 1 large marble
  5. Bowl
  6. Sand
  7. Clamp
  8. Compass



The method I will use is as follows:

  1. Collect all of the apparatus above and set up the equipment as shown in the diagram.
  2. Hold the small marble at the specific height in which you intend to begin the experiment at, in this case 0.1m.
  3. Drop the ball freely and do not apply any force.
  4. Carefully remove the ball from the crater making sure that the diameter is not affected in any way.
  5. Using a 15cm ruler, measure the diameter of the crater from top to bottom, make sure that you measure from the centre and from one edge to the other.
  6. Tabulate the results.
  7. Make the sand surface even and flat.
  8. Do stages 2-7 three more times from the same height (this will make the results more accurate and thus making them more reliable).
  9. Drop the ball from the ruler, going up 0.1m each time.
  10. Do stages 2-9 with a larger marble.
  11. Calculate the averages of the small and large marble crater when dropped from each height

Fair Test:

To keep my experiment fair I will have to take certain measures to do that, the measures are:

...read more.


The Barringer Meteorite Crater:

The Barringer crater is one of the world best know and most studied Meteorites. It is a gigantic hole in the ground that was formed by a Meteorite crashing into the earth. There is a rim of smashed and jumbled boulders that surround hole, some as high as 150ft. When the meteorite was first discovered the plain around it was covered with chunks of meteoritic iron there was more 30 tons of it found scattered around over an area 8 to 10 miles in diameter. This also shows that there will be a crater formed, and will have a definite rim.image07.jpg


Although a marble does not have the same properties as a Meteorite it was able to model a meteorite. I have found out that my prediction was true as my average graph looks like the following just like I predicted:


This graph shows that a crater is formed when the marble was dropped, but the diameter of the crater depended on the how much potential energy it carried. So the height increased as the diameter of the crater increased. The terminal velocity was not reached as the diameter did not stay constant at any point. The reason that the size of the crater was slowly was that the motion (speed)

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As meteorites do not land at direct 90° to the surface I could have also dropped the marble from different directions. The shape of a meteorite will not always be round like the marble, but we could use play dough or  little rock/pebbles.

As the meter ruler was not at eye level the dropping height may have been measured inaccurately or even incorrectly. And there may have been inaccuracies when throwing the ball, Ali might have pushed the marble down in some of the trials. And there is a possibility that the sands surface was not even at the time of the impact, which may have needed more energy to create the same diameter when the sand is flat.

Mr Doon                Umier Qureshi


...read more.

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