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Investigating the affects of a chosen factor on the speed of a Roller Coaster.

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Introduction

Physics Coursework 2003                Tasneem Sadiq 10A

INVESTIGATING THE AFFECTS OF A CHOSEN FACTOR ON THE SPEED OF A ROLLER COASTER

AIM

The aim of this investigation is to find out how one chosen factor affects the speed of a roller coaster car at the bottom of a slope.  In the investigation, a marble is used to represent a car.

FACTORS

VERTICAL HEIGHT OF SLOPE (THE HIGHER, THE FASTER)

GRADIENT OF THE SLOPE       (THE STEEPER, THE FASTER)

AIR RESISTANCE          (THE MORE THERE IS, THE SLOWER)

FRICTION                          (THE MORE THERE IS, THE SLOWER)

VARIABLES
I have chosen to investigate the vertical height of the roller coaster slope.  As the car (marble) rolls down the slope, it can be timed, and the length of the slope can be used to calculate the speed of the car (marble).

PREDICTION

I predict that as the vertical height increases, so will the speed2 of the car (marble).  Therefore, the higher the roller coaster slope is, the faster the car (marble) is.

SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION

The car (marble) has GPE at the top of the slope, and it has KE at the bottom.  As the car (marble) rolls down the slope, GPE changes into KE.

image00.png

As an object falls, its Gravitational Potential Energy is turned into Kinetic Energy.  The increase in GPE is equal to the increase in KE.  As energy is neither destroyed nor created, it must be equal (where there are no other energy transfers).  From this, I can conclude the following:

image01.png

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Middle

As the experiment is set up on a flat surface, it cannot accelerate on the flat part of the track.  To keep the run smooth, plasticine will also be used to smooth the run from the v-track to the flat surface.  This is so the marble does not bounce onto the surface, causing inaccuracy, and would also affect the speed of the marble. 

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

It is essential to complete the experiment with safety in mind therefore, it will be important to wear goggles during the investigation, in case the marble travels out of the experiment area.  For the same reason, its important that people are warned before the experiment is performed, so that they can be aware of any possible dangers, and children should not be around the experiment, as small parts such as marbles are hazardous to their health if swallowed.  

RESULTS

I aim to obtain results for six separate heights, giving me the speed at which the marble travels at, due to the change of height.  The marble will be timed from when it reaches the flat part of the track, until the end of the flat track.  The speed can be calculated as below:



image06.png

The distance that the marble travels is a constant 82 cm.  In order to obtain accurate results, it will be important to obtain three results for every height, obtaining an average speed.  This should give me a broad range to be able to see any pattern in order to make a conclusion.


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Conclusion

The results table shall be the same, but I would add an extra column, labelled the “Length of the Sloped Part of the Track (m)” and record the measurements of the length of the track for each change in height.  Afterwards it will be interesting to see how the length of the sloped track has affected the speed of the marble.

I would keep everything identical to my main investigation; all the factors and variables will be the same with the exception of the gradient as a constant.  My results will be analysed in a similar way to how my results in the main experiment were.  The speed of the marble will be compared to the change in height of the track in order to realise some form of pattern.  A graph will be plotted which will have the same format as the ones in my main investigation.  Last of all, if possible, a conclusion will be formed, like before.

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