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Investigation into factors affecting the speed of a car rolling down a ramp

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Introduction

Investigation into factors affecting the speed of a car rolling down a ramp Introduction The following investigation that I am going to embark on will involve the transfer of energy from one form to another. Usually when there is a transfer of energy from one component to another, these constituents are parts of machines or mechanisms, which are collectively classed as systems. In any one system there could be just one energy transfer or numerous transfers of energy. However, when we are dealing with systems, we must remember that there is no system that is absolutely perfect, in other words there is no system that can transfer energy 100% efficiently. There are several different types of energy. One would be elastic energy, which is a form of stored energy, e.g. found in a taut rubber band or spring. Another type would be chemical energy, which we as humans are in contact with everyday - it is the energy we get from in food, the energy used by our muscles and energy in batteries etc. Some systems involving energy transfers are: * Torches: they use batteries to power them. This power source provides electrical energy from the chemical energy in the batteries. The electrical energy then goes round the circuit powering the bulb and supplying light energy. In addition the bulb also emits heat energy. The torch's main function is to provide light, however, the heat energy also given of is in effect the "leak" in the system that makes it less than 100% efficient. In actual fact the desired light energy that is obtained is only about 5% of the initial chemical energy and the rest is wasted heat energy. So a torch if a very inefficient system. Below is a diagram that shows the transfer of energy in a torch: - In order to carry out this investigation, I first have to define the terms of the objectives so that an understanding is present and a clear process to acquire the answer can be devised. ...read more.

Middle

If it is not, or the tape touches the sides of the timer, then there will be involuntary friction introduced into the system and will invalidate the reliability of the experiment. To keep this from happening I have to position the car at the top so that the tape is free from friction, then take care that the car rolls down in a straight line parallel to the sides of the ramp. In addition to these adjustments, the most basic way of getting accurate results is to repeat the test a few times; this way I can dampen anomalous results too. Main Experiment Aim: To investigate the effect of height on the speed of a car rolling down a ramp. Apparatus: Retort stand; 2x boss + clamps; ramp; toy car; ticker timer; ticker tape; metre ruler; plasticine, electrical leads, electronic balance, power pack. Diagram: Method: Set up the apparatus as shown so that one end of the ramp is elevated to the desired height (which can be measured with the metre ruler) using the clamp on the retort stand, and so that the other end is in contact with the table. Fix the ticker timer to the retort stand too using another clamp then connect it to the power pack using the leads, so that the top of the timer is positioned level with the top of the ramp. Mark out where the start point of the car is going to be then measure the distance from the point to the bottom of the ramp in centimetres. Attach a length of ticker tape (that is sufficiently longer than the length of the ramp) to the toy car using the plasticine provided. Measure the combined mass of the car and the plasticine using the electronic balance in grams. Then feed the other end of the tape through the ticker timer. Making sure that the car and the tape are aligned with the ticker timer so that there is no contact, place the car at the top of the ramp on the mark indicated previously. ...read more.

Conclusion

If when the car did not roll down in a straight line then there could have been a chance that there was convergence between the ticker tape and the ticker timer. Any contact with the sides of the machine can succumb to an increase in the overall friction in the system and therefore subsequently decreasing the kinetic energy and slowing down the speed of the car. With this in mind there could be inaccuracies amongst the results and that could be the cause of the very slight deviations seen in the graph plotting the height of ramp against the speed of the car (page 14). The reliability of the experiment to deliver conclusive results is also questionable. The set-up involves numerous analogue readings and outputs that could be substituted with more precise solutions with a revised experimental method. Our main instrument indirectly recording speed of the car is the ticker timer. As explained the ticker timer can possibly augment the amount of friction acting against the system. The timer can be replaced by an arrangement of light gates and in turn this alternative would directly measure the speed of the car. So, as well as eliminating one external cause of friction this method can also rule out the blatant imprecision and human error made when if the ticker tape had to be analysed to find the speed. With a light gate it would not matter if the car didn't roll down parallel to the ramp so that awkward dilemma would cease to exist. In extension to this investigation, I could explore the effects that other factors have on the speed of the car. They would probably all tie in with the theory of GPE changing to KE such as varying the mass of the car or carrying out the experiment in a vacuum if possible. Also to give a more extensive view of application in reality I could explore different materials and the friction caused by them. Eg. The use of rubber tyres or even different surfaces. ?? ?? ?? ?? - Page 1 - ...read more.

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