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Physics Coursework - Making Sense of Data

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Making Sense of Data Coursework

Physics Coursework – Making Sense of Data

The purpose of this investigation is to carry out two experiments, collecting a series of data.  This will then be analysed and a conclusion will then be drawn, using my knowledge of physics.  The purpose of the experiments conducted was to investigate the relationship between resistance and the dimensional properties of Nichrome wire.

In both experiments the circuit was set out as illustrated below.image00.png

The wire used had a single strand cross-sectional area of 33x10cm. image03.png

Experiment 1: Length & Resistance

The first experiment explored the relationship between the length of wire and resistance.  The different lengths of wire used ranged form 10cm to 100cm.

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It is very difficult to analyse, and extract relationships from the initial table, so I decided to plot these results on a graph.  When conducted, the trials were not performed in uniform increments.  I decided to create another set of results, showing only results that were of increments of 10cm. I have also graphed this modified set of results, as it will allow me to extract more clear and accurate relationships.

The initial table also illustrates that the input voltage varied in some of the trials.  This was a deliberate modification, with the aim to prevent a dramatic increase in the temperature of the wire.  This change in input voltage would not have had an effect on the resistance.  As the potential difference changes, the current changes proportionally.  Therefore, when calculated the resistance amounts to the same value.

The resistance is calculated using the equation:                 R = V ÷ I

Where: R is resistance (Ω)

V is potential difference (V)

I is current (A)

Analysis of Results

Due to the nature of the equipment, the results of the experiment are not completely accurate.

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In conclusion, both experiments have proven the relationships between the dimensional properties and resistance of wire.  In each experiment, the resistivity of the wire was calculated.  As it is a constant, it should always be the same for that particular wire. However, the resultant values aren’t incredibly similar.  This may be due to the fact that Nichrome is an impure metal.  Composed of both Chrome and Nickel, it may be un-uniformly proportioned, thus giving a different resistance.   I would consider the second value to be the most accurate due to the fact that the line of regression on the graph is very close to 1 (perfect).  It is very evident that there was a much larger error margin for the first set of results which could also be due to` lack of accuracy when measuring lengths of wire.  Calculating is a much more reliable method, as illustrated in the cross-sectional area experiment.  If I were to improve the experiment, I would use digital meters, which will have a much higher resolution and accuracy.  To further the integrity of my results I would ensure that all measurements are made accurate and exact.

Calvin Stewart        22/04/2002

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