• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11

Investigation of the Factors Affecting the Rate at Which an Object Falls.

Extracts from this document...


Investigation of the Factors Affecting the

Rate at Which an Object Falls

Background knowledge

All objects, when no force is acting upon them, shall remain at the same steady speed, without accelerating or decelerating; so if an object is still, it shall not move and if it is moving then it shall continue moving so long as no force is acting upon them. This was explained by Newton’s first law. However it must also be noted that the meaning of “no force” may also be understood as “all forces acting upon a certain object balances each other out” so the object is in equilibrium.

    Liquids and gases are known as fluids. If an object passes through either of these two mediums there shall be a force acting in the opposite direction known as “friction”. One very important type of fluid friction is air resistance.

    If there was no force acting upon two falling objects (both having a different mass), other than gravity, they shall both fall with the same rate of acceleration regardless of their mass. This is explained by Newton’s second law which states force = mass x acceleration, so acceleration is equal to force/mass. Because the force (of gravity) is dependant upon the mass, all objects will have the same rate of acceleration. Consider the following:



          means “the force of gravity”.

...read more.




  1. One person stands and holds a metre ruler, whilst a second holds a single paper cup to the height of 1 metre (the top of the ruler).
  2. The latter drops the paper cup and a third who is watching starts the timer as soon as the paper cup is released and stops the timer when the paper cup reaches the ground.
  3. The one who times fills in the table of results.
  4. The previous 3 steps are repeated two more times.
  5. The previous 4 steps are repeated 5 more times but with varying numbers of paper cups (rather than “a single paper cup” as in procedure no. 1): 2,3,4,5 and 6 respectively.
  6. The previous 5 steps are repeated but rather than dropping the paper cup(s) from 1 metre (as in procedure no. 1), is dropped from 1.5 metres firstly and then 2 metres.


Safety isn’t really an issue in this investigation. However precaution should be taken when dealing with paper, ruler and electrical equipment (i.e. the stopwatch). The paper cups, accidentally may cause paper cuts. The ruler(s) may fall, if misused, and hurt someone. The stopwatch, if precautions aren’t taken, could harm someone slightly by giving them a small electric shock.

   In reality, these safety matters are very logical and would only occur very rarely or if done deliberately.  

Fair testing:

All factors (mentioned in the Background Knowledge)

...read more.


    Another error which may have occurred is the accuracy in timing. The heights were too small, thus to time accurately would be very difficult in such a low height (because the time is so less that it would be difficult to time using a stopwatch). To aid this problem more repetitions should be made (more than 3) so that a more accurate average could be calculated.

    In addition the paper cups may not have all been exactly the same in weight. To reduce this error the paper cups should be weighed and those paper cups which are not the same as the majority should be removed.

To improve this experiment, light gates could be used. This is a tool which starts timing as soon as an object passes a certain point and stops when it reaches the ground.

Further experiment may include:

  • Increasing the weight (the number of paper cups).
  • Increasing the heights (e.g. 2.5 metres, 3 metres, 3.5 metres etc.)
  • Experiment on surface area (e.g. by folding the paper cups or flattening them out.

Almost all the results in the practical fell within the curve of best fit. From the 18 different results only 2 of them were slightly out of the curve in the time graphs. They were as follows:

  • When 3 paper cups were dropped from 1 metre.
  • When 3 paper cups were dropped from 2 metres.

    As regards to my final results and findings, I am pleased by its accuracy and recommend this procedural method of executing further experiments of a similar nature.            

...read more.

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Forces and Motion section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Forces and Motion essays

  1. Investigating the factors affecting the speed at which a parachute falls.

    My results support this conclusion because each time the mass of the parachute was increased it reached the ground quicker (excluding the first and the last results). On Graph 1 the points (except for the first and last) were all very close to the line of best fit.

  2. How does the weight of an object affect the friction it has on the ...

    of sand paper 18 036C, m = 6/1000 m = 0.006 In my prediction, I predicted that as the weight of the block of wood increases, so would the force needed to overcome its static friction and move it. I therefore did some more background research, and discovered the term coefficients of friction.

  1. Factors affecting acceleration

    very little difference between each weight would suggest that the difference in the mass of the car will not affect the acceleration of it this is also shown as the times of the accelerations were all in a range of 0.5m.s.

  2. Trolley Speed

    It also shows that with an increase of height, there is an increase of average speed at which the trolley travels. 1. Product moment correlation coefficient = -0.3 Graph 1: From the first graph, it is possible to conclude that as the height of the ramp increases, the time taken for the trolley to reach the bottom decreases.

  1. Investigate the factors which affect the terminal velocity of a falling object.

    magnet * Thermometer * Micrometer Health and Safety Oil should be handled carefully and any spillages should be cleaned up to keep the environment safe. A glass thermometer can easily shatter and pose a hazard. An object like a metre stick can be dangerous if not used correctly.

  2. Investigation on how the Surface area of a Canopy Affects the Rate at Which ...

    This is because the larger the surface area of the canopy the more air resistance it provides. Air resistance is friction between the air and the canopy, another way of saying this is theamount of air caught by the canopy.

  1. Investigate the factors affecting the rate of descent of a parachute.

    the force of gravity According to this theory, the heavier the object, the faster the rate of descent. Method Equipment: Stop watch- I have chosen this method of timing because it is accurate and easy to use. Bin bags- they are a very flexible material and move through the air well.

  2. Squash Ball and Temperature Investigation

    40 12 11 12 13 13 61 61? 5 12 50 17 16 17 18 18 86 86 ? 5 17 60 21 21 19 19 19 99 99 ? 5 20 70 22 21 21 22 22 108 108 ? 5 22 80 26 25 25 26 25 127 127 ( 5 25 90 26 26 26

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work