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Investigation of Terminal Velocity

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Investigation of Terminal VelocityJonathan Boud

An investigation of
Terminal Velocity is taking place for my SC1, physics Coursework. It is mainly to put the Newton’s Laws into action. We are using Newton’s first and second law (explained in Theory). Concepts of potential and kinetic energy are delt with. Explaining how forces are necessary to cause motion.

An experiment to test the terminal velocity of a
cone of a specific size. Once the most suitable sized cone has been chosen from the preliminary experiment, we will go on to see whether different weights added to the cones will affect the speed at which it falls.

Theory:        (Reference taken from Encarta and various Encyclopedias) 
This experiment is mainly based on Newton’s second law of motion.

Newton’s First law: image00.png
Newton’s second law: This law can be written as the formula A=F/M. This tells us that the acceleration of a body (A) depends upon the unbalanced force (F) and the mass (M) of the object.

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Times are measured seconds to two d.p.





We were then able to work out is speed from these results, by using Speed = Dist/Time.

Average Speed




Speed measuredin cm per second.


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“I predict that the cone’s speed will be proportional to the weight which is added to the cone, (number of paper clips).” image05.png

We are able to refer to the graphs of the average times and speed, we can safely conclude that as the weight is increasing the time taken for cone to fall is decreasing. Proportional to this is the gradual increase of the speed against the weight. image06.png

        If all the data had been recorded to perfection you would be able to see how Terminal Velocity was present in this experiment. This all coincides with Newton’s laws of motions, explained in the theory.

In the speed graph there is a sudden increase in the results. There is no proven reason for this, apart from me amending the nose of the cone. Therefor the cone being more aerodynamic. The main evidence of success is taken from the first ¾ of the readings where there is a steady increase showing us a firm conclusion of Terminal velocity.  

If I was to do this experiment again I would have not gone up in twos, so to get a more accurate graph of results, I would have found a way of recording the time more accurately.

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