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How the height of a ramp affects the speed of a toy car.

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Physics investigation.Laura Boyes 11D1.

How the height of a ramp affects the speed of a toy car.

Background knowledge.

Speed is a way of describing how fast an object is moving and can be calculated if you know the distance the object travels and how long it takes to travel that distance. You can then calculate the speed of an object using the formula:


                              TIME TAKEN (S)

The formula triangle for this is;

Speed is measured in metres per second (m/s), kilometres per hour (km/h) or miles per hour (mph).

There are certain factors, which affect the stopping distance of a car such as gravity and the surface area, which it travels on. If the gravity is decreased this would affect the friction between the car and surface area and so it would decrease the stopping distance of a car. Different surface areas are harder for the car to overcome for example sand is rough and has a greater resistance so the car would need more energy to travel over sand than a smooth surface. Velocity is a similar thing to speed, it is the speed of an object

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From my preliminary results I have found that the height of the ramp does affect the speed of the car – the higher the ramp is the faster the car will travel. This backs up my prediction, which I made earlier and I can relate my conclusion to my scientific knowledge because I already know that when the car is placed at the top of the ramp it has a certain amount of gravitational potential energy, which is converted into kinetic energy when the car travels down the ramp. So the higher the ramp is, the more gravitational potential energy there will be to be converted into kinetic energy, resulting in more kinetic energy making the car travel at a faster speed.

     From the line of best fit on my graph I can see that there must be a pattern because there is strong positive correlation between the points and there is a straight line, which shows that the height and the speed are in proportion to each other.

On my graph I have drawn dotted lines up to the curved line to find the results I should have according to the line of best fit. These are shown in a table and allow me to see where I have any errors in my experiment.


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height               1.7              3.5            5           6.8       8.5      

speed                0.30          0.47         0.61       0.70       0.80

1st difference                0.17   0.14        0.09            0.10         2nd difference                                  

                                            0.03       0.05          0.01

I looked for the 1st difference and then the 2nd difference however I could not find any patterns so I cannot form a mathematical term for the results.


I think my experiment was quite a good one because my method was clear and easy to follow and my results were quite accurate. I was able to use information, which I had found out in the preliminary experiment in order to carry this one out successfully by using a precise method, which was accurate.

There were 3 results which were slightly off the line of best fit on my graph this could be because the light gates were not working correctly or the laptop didn’t record the correct results. I could improve the method by doing the experiment more to ensure accuracy although I used precise equipment so the results should already be quite accurate. Although there are still some slight errors in the experiment I think that the evidence is good enough to support my conclusion and prediction, which is the higher the ramp is the faster the object will travel. To improve my investigation and extend it I could use a digital meter to make the results more accurate, if the experiment was to be extended we could use other vehicles to roll down the ramp, using different size, weight and type of wheels to see if this has any effect on the speed.


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