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I am going to find out what factors affect the Terminal Velocity of an object falling through air. I will use paper helicopters to carry out this experiment.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Physics Coursework

Factors affecting Speed

Planning

Aim

I am going to find out what factors affect the Terminal Velocity of an object falling through air. I will use paper helicopters to carry out this experiment.

Prediction

I predict that the longer the wing length the faster the paper helicopter will fall. I also believe that if more weight is exerted on the helicopter (i.e. paperclips) it will make the speed that it falls at increase. The Terminal Velocity, the maximum speed of a falling object when resistance of air equals the pull of gravity increases when the surface area is larger. The paper helicopter will take a shorter time to reach its Terminal Velocity and will fall quicker than if the wing length is shortened. This would cause it to go slower. When the mass of the helicopter is changed this also changes its rate of falling through air. When the mass is large it takes shorter time to reach its location as the helicopter accelerates to a higher speed. This is also due to the Terminal Velocity being higher.

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Middle

0.0303

2 Paperclip

0.0240

3 Paperclip

0.0206

4 Paperclip

0.0193

5 Paperclip

0.0166

These results show that when more weight is added to the paper helicopter it accelerates to a higher speed as the Terminal Velocity is higher.

The test that I decided to do for my final experiment was to find out how the speed that the paper helicopter falls at is affected when the wing length is changed. I believe that this would give me the most accurate results and could be dealt with fairly.    

Method

Apparatus

Paper helicopter

Timing device (stopwatch)

Step 1

Cut out paper helicopter as following:

image00.png

Step 2

Measure 3 meters from floor to ceiling

Step 3

Drop paper helicopter from 3 meters

Step 4

Record the amount of time it takes to reach the floor

Step 5

Using the simple formula

Speed = Distance

             Time

Find the speed that it falls

Step 6

Try this experiment again for four other wing lengths:

(Repeat if necessary)

Wing length

7 cm

9 cm

11 cm

13 cm

15 cm

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Conclusion


Graph 2 shows that the speed that the paper helicopter with a wing length of 13 cm fell slower than the paper helicopter with a wing length of 11 cm.

Graph 1 should show one rapidly decreasing line but my anomalous results have caused it to steeply increase and than decrease at the end.

Graph 2 should show one rapidly increasing line but my anomalous results have caused it to steeply decrease and than increase at the end.

Accuracy

I could make the test more accurate if I was in a more confined area where there would not be any obstacles or extra air resistance that could affect the rate that the paper helicopter falls at. I could also make the helicopters out of a more durable and less fragile material to provide me with better results.

Further tests that I could do to find out what factors affect the Terminal Velocity of an object falling through air is to try different shapes and designs some more streamlined than others and seeing which design reaches its Terminal Velocity the quickest. I could also try different base lengths and areas to see if this somehow affects the rate that it falls at.

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This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Forces and Motion section.

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