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Investigate a factor which affects the horizontal distance travelled by a marble when launched from a ramp of a desk.

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Jessi Lowry 11A                                                                                            

Investigate a factor which affects the horizontal distance travelled by a marble when launched from a ramp of a desk.


I am going to investigate how the perpendicular height of a marble on a ramp (x) affects the horizontal distance travelled by the marble (y), when launched off a desk.

I predict that as the perpendicular height of the marble increases, the distance launched will also increase. This is because as the height is increased, there is more potential energy formed. If there is more potential energy present, more potential energy can be transformed into kinetic energy, meaning the marble will travel faster down the ramp. If the marble is travelling at a high velocity when it leaves the desk, it will take longer for the downwards pull of gravity to take effect on the marble, meaning it will travel further horizontally before it falls and comes to a stop. The distance travelled by the marble and the perpendicular height of its launch may also be proportional, due to the fact that energy before launch, energy during launch and energy after launch must all be the same (law of conservation of energy).

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There is nothing potentially dangerous in this experiment so no particular precautions need be taken, except using general common sense, for example, ensuring the clamp stand is secure etc.


My experiment was carried out safely and the following table contains my results.

image01.png height (x)

/ cm

Distance 1 (y1) / cm

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I am fairly sure that the conclusion I have reached through this experiment is correct, however, I can only be sure that this is true in the same environment and to the same extent that I am experimenting. For example, as the ramp I am using is fairly short, any acceleration is almost negligible within my experiment. However, were this experiment to be done on a larger scale, acceleration caused by gravity would have to be taken into account and the conclusion would very likely be different. To the same extent, if different materials were to be used for the ramp, the results would be likely to change as friction (which again is negligible in my experiment) may play a big part in the speed of the marble or ball. So, in terms of a school laboratory experiment with apparatus etc provided, I feel my conclusion is as detailed as possible. However, there is still much room for further investigation into the topic as a whole, and in a variety of situations, such as on a bigger scale, variations of ramp and ball material, or even in a place where gravity is different to that on earth.

Bibliography – Physics for AQA by Patrick Fullick

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