Investigating the factors affecting the speed at which a parachute falls.
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Parachute Investigation - Year 10 Investigating the factors affecting the speed at which a parachute falls. Introduction We are going to investigate a factor that will affect the speed of a parachute. Planning The factors that will affect the speed of the parachute are; Weight/ Mass - If the weight or mass is increased the downwards force will increase, making the parachute fall faster. Surface Area - If the surface area is increased the upwards force will increase making the parachute fall slower. We are going to investigate the weight or the mass. I predict that if the weight or mass is increased the parachute will fall faster. It will fall slower if the surface area is increased. I also think that in both experiments the parachute would accelerate constantly until the upwards and downwards forces are equal and the parachute meets its terminal velocity. We will measure the time in seconds and the mass in grams. We will drop the parachute from the same height each time for reliable results. Detailed Planning Factors that could affect the speed: Change in Mass - Because an increase in mass would increase the downwards force acting on the parachute, this would make the fall faster. Change in Surface Area - Because by increasing this you are increasing the number of air particles which hit the parachute therefore increasing the drag or upwards force, this would make the parachute fall slower.
We then tried dropping the parachute from the height of the ceiling, this was much better so we measured how high it was and used this height as our fixed height. This helped our experiment because it made the timing much easier to do accurately. Analysis of Results There is a minor pattern in the results (see Table 1) we found. For the second to fourth results the difference between the results increases at a constant rate (see Table 2). This, and the rest of the results, is plotted on Graph 1 where the line of best fit is a smooth curve. The curve on Graph 1 corroborates the results on table 2 proving that the results have an increasing decrease. This means that the decrease in Average time for every result got less each time. From Graph 1 I conclude that mass does affect the speed at which a parachute falls. The heavier parachutes fall faster than the lighter ones. This conclusion fits most of the results. It does not, however, fit the average time of the parachute with an added mass of 0g and the parachute with an added mass of 42g. The reason for the result we found is that the Net Downward Force is equal to the Downward Force (or mass) minus the Upward Force (or air resistance). The air resistance is affected by surface area; bigger surface areas create more air resistance.
was an anomaly instead of the first result, I had decided this using Graph 1. From Graph 1, I can see that the first anomaly is either the first or the second result, but upon comparing these findings with Table 2, I found that, in fact, the first result was the anomaly. I think that the anomalous results were because of human error in the timing. I think our results (except the anomalies) were very reliable, we did the experiment three times and then found the averages, and we then used the average times for all graphs, tables and conclusions. If we needed to improve the reliability of the experiment we could repeat it more times but I think this would be unnecessary. I think that our chosen procedure for carrying-out the experiment was quite suitable, the only thing I would change is where the tests took place. If I was to do this again I would do it in a more open space so that there would be less re-tests because of the parachute hitting something whilst it was falling, but I wouldn't do it outside since air movement would affect the results also. If I was to do any further work to provide additional relevant evidence I would repeat the test with a larger parachute or drop the parachute from a different height or change the mass intervals to see if the same conclusion was met, I would then use this to back-up my conclusion or to extend the experiment. Catherine Baty 10JM
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