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Investigating a Rolling Ball

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P O A E SPG Investigating a Rolling Ball Paul McAdam - 10A Introduction The aim of this experiment is to determine whether or not energy is conserved when a ball bearing is rolled down a slope. Six weeks of preliminary work have been carried out ensuring that measurements can be taken quickly with the correct instruments needed for the measurement. Previous knowledge of energy conservation says that energy cannot be created or destroyed. What factors need to be controlled or varied in this experiment? In this experiment many factors need to be considered, some need to vary, some need to remain the same. Measurements must also be taken. There are two independent variables that need to vary, these are :- 1. The height of the track. 2. The mass of the ball. There are three factors that need to remain constant if this is to be a fair test, these are:- 1. The starting point of the ball. 2. The starting speed of the ball. 3. The length of the track. Measurements to take are:- 1. The height of the track. 2. The time taken for the ball to roll from the top of the track to the bottom. 3. The speed of the ball. 4. The mass of the ball. 5. The length of the track. ...read more.


Describe the procedure Diagram 1 1. Set up the equipment as shown in diagram 1. 2. Measure the length of the track. 3. Adjust the track to the height to be investigated, measure the height. 4. Measure the mass of the ball. 5. Place the ball on the starting point and release, start the stopwatch. 6. When the ball reaches the end of the track stop the stopwatch. 7. Record the time taken. 8. Repeat steps 4-7 seven times for each height investigated. 9. Discard the highest and lowest times, take the average of the remaining five times. 10. Divide the length by the average time taken to find the speed of the ball. 11. Multiply height by mass of ball by gravity (10) to find GPE. 12. Multiply a half of the mass of ball by speed� to find KE. 13. Subtract KE from GPE in order to find energy lost as heat and sound. How is the experiment made as accurate as possible? The experiment is made as accurate as possible by measuring variables to the most accurate unit possible, ie. Length is measured to the nearest thousandth of a metre. The ball is rolled down the track seven times for each height investigated, the highest and lowest readings for time are discarded and an average of the remaining five times is found. ...read more.


Analysis shows that if metres are used the gradient should be close to twenty. If centimetres are used then the gradient should be close to 2000. This however relies on the final speed of the ball bearing being used, this experiment calculated the average speed of the ball bearing. The average speed is half the final speed so v� on the graph is only a 1/4 of its true value. Therefore the gradient should be close to 5m/s� or 500 m/s�. The actual gradient of the graph is 3?m/s�. The anomalous results occurred at the higher heights, the ball travelled down the ramp quickly and human reflexes could not stop the timer at the correct value. How could the experiment be made more accurate? To make this experiment as accurate as possible high quality equipment is needed. To eliminate air resistance the experiment would need to be carried out in a total vacuum. To reduce friction on the slope and on the ball, glass or polished metal should replace the plastic slope and the ball bearing. To make measurements of time more accurate, computers could be used to release the ball and light gates used to give accurate timings of the ball rolling down the track. The final speed of the ball should be found instead of the average speed. Large micrometers could be used to measure lengths and highly accurate digital balances used to measure mass. This would eliminate human delays due to slow reflexes. ...read more.

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