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Investigation into whether the height of a ramp affects the speed of a trolley travelling down it.

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Alex Boultwood 11a                                                                Dr. North

Investigation into whether the height of a ramp affects the speed of a trolley travelling down it.


In this investigation I will place a trolley at the top of a ramp and then release it. Then I shall try to calculate its speed and from these results I can obtain whether the height of the ramp increases or decreases the speed of the trolley.

When the trolley is raised to the top of the ramp, it gains a certain amount of gravitational potential energy as the trolley is released; this energy is converted into kinetic (movement) energy as the trolley moves down the slope. To see what factors may affect the experiment, it may be useful to look at the formula for potential energy.

P.E = mhg (where m=mass, h=height and g=gravity)

The more potential energy the trolley has got, the faster it will move down the ramp. Therefore the only factors that can affect this experiment are the height of the ramp and the mass of the trolley. The gravity will always stay constant at about 10m/s2.

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Obtaining results.

To make this investigation successful, we must choose a sensible range, and amount, of readings to record in order to come up with accurate set of results. It would be pointless to experiment with heights ranging from 1cm-4cm because the speed difference would be minute. I have chosen a range of 40cm – 240cm. We are going to release the trolley three times for each height. To measure the speed of the trolley we are going to use ticker tape. Ticker tape can be used to measure speed and acceleration; the timer dots the tape every 1/50th of a second. Equipment


Trolley – To roll down the ramp.
Ramp – For the trolley to roll down.
Metre Stick – To measure out 2 metres on the ramp.
Tape – To mark the start line.
Ticker tape – To measure speed of trolley.
Books – For one side of the ramp to rest on, to increase the height of the ramp.

Using this equipment, we can easily obtain results with a high degree of accuracy. We can get the height of the ramp at the start line to an accurate degree by simply moving the pile of books forwards or backwards fractionally.

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        In conclusion to the investigation, I believe that the experiment went very well, I did not face any major difficulties in obtaining or recording my results. If I had more time I would record more results to make my results more accurate. Also I would use a light gate instead of ticker tape, as light gates are more accurate as the ticker tape can cause some friction. Taking 3 sets of results reduced the chance of anomalous results. On my graph there is a slight dip at the height of 200cm and then it increases again at 240cm. I believe that this is because 24 was too steep to measure and therefore gave certain inaccuracies in the results. I believe my results were accurate as they were all near enough the same. Perhaps if I did the investigation again I would also see if mass affects speed.


By conducting this investigation I have found out that height affects speed and height and speed have a positive correlation. As Height increases spped increases and as height decreases speed increases.

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