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Physics ball bearing investiagtion

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By Jessica Tilbrook

Physics coursework – data analysis: ball bearing

Aim: -

To establish the relationship between the heights from which the ball bearing was dropped and the depth of the crater created in the sand.

Apparatus: -

  • 1 x clamp (stand)                        - Somewhere to record your results.
  • 1 x ball bearing (0.0165kg)                - 1 x Boss head
  • 1 x tray full of sand                        - 1 x Magnet
  • 5 – 10 candles                                - 1 x Nail
  • Matches
  • Gogglesimage24.png
  • Newspaper
  • 1 x 1 metre rulerimage00.pngimage01.png

How your apparatus should be set up image12.png


Method: -

  1. Get all the Apparatus out, and set it up like it is shown above.
  2. Place the clamp with the boss head outside of the sand tray. Then put the 1 metre ruler into the boss head, so the ruler goes straight down to the bottom of the sand tray. Make sure the ruler is straight (at a 90 ̊ angle)image25.png
  3. This is how the experiment should take place, by holding the magnet at the height you wish to drop it, and they holding the nail in front of the magnet, so then the magnet and the nail attach,
  4. Then hold the ball bearing roughly 1cm away from the nail
  5. Drop the ball bearing 3 times for each height. Making sure you apply no pressure when dropping the ball bearing, to make it as fair as possible. Repeat this 3 times for 10
...read more.
































DATA ANAYLIS graphs. *

The first graph I did was on my first set of results, which I test each height 3 times, the graph showed the relationship between the depth of crater to the height it was dropped.

  • On my results table (depth of crater, height dropped from) which is on the back of the first graph, I circled two of my results which I feel are outliers, as they were way out of the other results that I had recorded.
  • I think the outliers were caused by either the person dropping the ball bearing applied some pressure, or it wasn’t dropped at the exact height, or the sand was unlevel. We didn’t include most of the outliers which I thought were extravagantly different to my other results, so it wouldn’t affect my overall results that much. I also didn’t include the extravagant outliers on my averages; otherwise i would get an invalided set of data.  
  • I think most my results on my first experiment were reliable, but to make it fairer dropping the ball at more than 3 times, it would have made it even more reliable, than it already was.

Graph #2 –

My second graph showed the same as the first (showed the relationship between the height of depth of crater to the height it was dropped) but with an improved method.

  • My second sets of results, in my opinion were a lot more reliable, as I tested it 5 times for each height, instead of 3 like the last time.
  • Therefore I didn’t find any outlier, meaning my results were very reliable, because we made sure we did the second set of results more accurately and took more time. Meaning reliable results.

Graph #3 –

This graph show the relationship between the crater depths and velocity,

  • I used the averages from my second sets of results as they were more accurate, meaning this graph would be more accurate.

Graph #4 -

This graph showed the relationship between the velocity and the height the ball bearing was dropped at.

  • This graph is very accurate, it goes up at a steady pace, and the distances between each reading are very similar.

Improvements to the method –

I think my method was very good, but we didn’t do a few things that we probably should of, like:

  • Every time you took the wax out of the crater, you should smooth down the sand, so lumps and bumps are at a minimum, making your results a lot more reliable.image22.pngimage28.png
  • Made sure the magnet that was attached to the nail which held the ball bearing was exactly at the right height. image23.pngimage02.png
...read more.



  • I think my results are quiet accurate, although I don’t think they are 100%, as a number of things could have happened, like what I mentioned above.
  • On my first set of results, I found two outliers, i thought they were both outliers because they were 0.4 below the lowest of the other results, this is probably because when it was dropped it was dropped slightly lower than they should have.

Most of my results don’t have a large range making them more accurate the biggest range I have is (without outliers) 0.3cm so a close range.

Height (m)

Crater depth (cm)





















I think reasons why they could have been inaccurate, are that the heights which they were dropped were not precise enough, and people many putting a little pressure on the ball bearing causing inaccurate results.

  • If I had more time I would have made sure everything was done very carefully and accurately, and there are a couple of outliers which if i had time would have tested them again.
  • I am fairly confident with my results, but like I have said I would have like to re-do some of the outliers I found.

I think my experiment was quiet successful, apart from the few outliers, which was probably due to pressure of dropping the ball bearings or it was not dropped at the correct height.


...read more.

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