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The aim of this investigation is to find how the steepness of a ramp affects the speed of a ball rolling down it.


I predict that the steeper the ramp the faster a ball will roll down it. So their will be greater acceleration i.e. the ball will speed up. This is because their will be less resultant force as the ramp gets steeper. I can back my prediction by using forces as part of my hypothesis.


Newton’s laws of motion

  • 1st law- balanced forces mean no change in velocity

            So long as the forces of an object are all balanced it’ll just stay still or else if   it’s already moving it’ll just carry on at the same velocity.image00.png


  • 2nd law- a resultant force means acceleration

 If there is an unbalanced force, then the object will accelerate in that direction.

The reaction force

Is always 90°C from the slope

As the ramp gets steeper there is less reaction force balancing the weight so there is greater resultant force.image12.png

  • 3rd law- reaction forcesimage20.png

            If object A exerts a force on object B then object B exerts the exact opposite force on object A.

Whenever an object is on a horizontal surface, there’ll always be a reaction force pushing upwards, supporting the object.  The total reaction force will be equal and opposite of the weight.

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1.41  1.53  1.50


Practice golf ball




1.50   1.47   1.50



The aim of this investigation is to investigate how steepness affects speed so I will use the following formula to work out the speed of each ball from the average result.


Speed (cm per second)

Ping pong




Practice golf ball


Ping pong




Practice golf ball



From the above set of results I can see that as I increased the height it took less time for the ball(s) to roll down the ramp. Because as the ramp gets steeper there will be less force balancing the weight, thus, there will be a greater resultant force. However I only tried two different heights so the results are not very reliable.


After carrying out my preliminary work I realised that I could have made the test more reliable. For my actual experiment I will use six different heights and repeat each experiment five times to get more accurate results. Also I will calculate the angle of the ramp at each stage to ensure my results are correct.


I think it is important to space my heights out in a suitable range so it enables me to observe clearly how the steepness affects the speed. I am going to use the following heights: 4cm, 7cm, 15cm, 18cm, 23cm, and 30cm.

Fair testing

After carrying out my Preliminary run I realised that I could have made the test more accurate to get more reliable results. In my experiment I will take in to consideration the following;

  • I will make sure that I roll my ball the same distance in all the different heights.
  • I will try to push the ball with the same force each time
  • I will use the same books to hold my ramp up each time to ensure that less errors are made
  • I will calculate the angle of the ramp so I can check that as the height increases so does the angle. I will use the following formula:


             Horizontal  -inverse tangent        


I will calculate this angle


Safety is very important in a scientific experiment even if the experiment may seem harmless. To make this experiment safe I will make sure equipment is always handled with a lot of care to avoid an accident.  Also I will not run around as one could get hurt. Also I will keep the desktop that I am working as clean as possible, so that there is nothing on the desktop, except for the apparatus needed thus; an accident does not happen. If an accident does occur I will inform the teacher straightaway.


  • Ball
  • Ramp
  • Books
  • Ruler
  • Stop clock
  • Mass scale  
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  • Another way to record the time would be to use a light gate. This would be connected to a computer light and it would indicate when the ball passes the points at the top and bottom connected to the lights.image23.png


   Starting light

   gate                                                                                                         Finishing light


On the whole I think my experiment went really well. I believe that I carried out my experiment reasonably, and I encountered no problems. As a result I ended up with an applicable set of results.

Further work

I could carry out another experiment that would be quite similar to this one. I could investigate how the mass of a ball affected the speed. The two changing variables would be the weight of the ball and the steepness of the slope. Fair testing and safety would be just as important. I would have to use the same apparatus and overall the same method. Also all the improvements I mentioned above I could use for this experiment.

I would predict that the ball with greater mass would roll down the slowest and the ball with the least mass would roll down the fastest. This is because a greater force would be needed to accelerate the ball with more mass, whereas a smaller amount of force would be needed to accelerate the ball will less mass. Also my preliminary run backs up my prediction as I can see that it took the three balls at the same height different speeds to roll down.

-  -

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