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Investigating the factors that affect the stopping distance of a miniature car.

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James Hobson                11JA

An Investigation to Prove that Gravitational Potential Energy affects the Stopping Distance of a Car…


I am investigating the factors that affect the stopping distance of a miniature car.


There are several factors I could change to affect the stopping distance of a car. If the speed at which the car is travelling changed then I predict that at a greater speed the stopping distance would be greater because it takes longer for the car to slow down when no counter forces act upon it. This is an example of a graph to show this. The line of best fit would be through the origin.

When the weight of the car is altered I predict at a greater weight the car will move faster therefore have a longer stopping distance.

If the surface of the ground the car was travelling on is smoother then there will be less friction therefore less counter forces acting on the car will take longer to stop.

If there is a greater amount of air resistance on the car it increases the counter forces slowing the car down.

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Distance up Ramp (M)

Stopping Distance (M)













































Analysis and Conclusion

My results show that I was correct with my prediction, in that the greater the height the longer the stopping distance. This is shown in the graph. It is a straight line graph and is proportional to 1:5 as shown. The results were reliable as they are similar when repeated. I have no anomalous results. This is because I repeated any results that didn’t fit the general pattern. In conclusion, the experiment has proven that when increasing gravitational potential energy you also increase the stopping distance of a car. This is due to the car being pull towards the earth, causing it to accelerate. This potential energy changes to kinetic, heat and sound energy as the car moves. The car has a bigger driving force than the counter forces acting on it. We know this as it move along the flat surface until all energy is transferred.

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Overall the experiment went well will few problems. In each attempt I kept all variables the same to make it fair as explained before. Although, problems that I did encounter were that it was very hard to keep the car straight once released. Sometimes it would hit the side of the runway against a ruler which would have altered the results because any turning etc. would have slowed the car down. In order to improve this I would suggest having more time to make sure each attempt does not hit the side but goes in a straight line. Measurements could have been made more accurately by perhaps using another straight line (a ruler) from the car to the ruler so as to make sure it is inline, also, more accurate results could have been obtained by recording more decimals in the readings. All the results fitted with what I expected and fit with the general pattern. The readings are reliable enough to be sure about my conclusion as we repeated all results for confirmation.    


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