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Physics Coursework - Making Sense of Data.

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George Buse

Mr Pellet

Physics Coursework

Physics Coursework – Making Sense of Data

The Task

The task for the set coursework is to carry out an experiment to collect a series of data then to analyze and gain a conclusion with my knowledge of the physics affecting my experiment.  The experiment I chose to research and carry out involves a stretch of wire, which once weights are added I will measure the distance the wire has stretched.

The experiment needs to be carried out to find adequate results for a conclusion and relation to physics.  The experiment itself is to be carried out in the classroom across a bench.  Using simple apparatus I will be able to conduct the experiment within a couple lessons.  The copper wire, which I will be using, is fixed at one end of the table with a block of wood and clamp.  The block of wood is there to suspend the wire off the table so any interference from the surface of the table does not affect my results.  At the other end of the wire a pulley enables the wire to stretch without constraints such as friction.  And finally at the end of the wire a slotted mass facility able for weights to be added freely.

Diagram of Apparatus:

The experiment I am going to conduct is very temperamental; so a couple practice experiments are needed so I can collect information, which will be most useful to my coursework.


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After conducting the three experiments I was able to obtain an average, as shown in the table

The information I now have is very helpful, but however not substantial enough to draw a conclusion from.  To make it clearer, I need to provide some graphs to my report, which would show much clearer what is happening in the experiments.

On the table I have written, “snapped” for the end result of each experiment.  This literally means that the wire has snapped at this point.  Unfortunately one of the experiments snapped before the other two, this information would prove to me that either the experiment was carried out differently, poorly, or just that the wire was in different conditions.  


Firstly a major factor that I investigated which I believed would affect the distance that the wire stretched, was the time period between applying weights.  If I applied all the weights at the same time it would snap quickly and results that I would have received would have contradicted each other, by this I mean when each weight is added it wouldn’t have enough time to stretch the wire to its full potential.

To resolve this I applied the weight on a two minute time period, however considering that the first 70 or so Newton’s didn’t have much effect on the wire, I applied them at a slightly faster rate.

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Some of the results that were recorded may have been affected by human errors such as applying the weights drastically and measuring the distances that wire has stretched incorrectly, but however carrying out the experiment in great detail would take large amounts of time, which would not enable me to compile three experiments and an average.  

Ways that my experiment could have been improved:  if a weight applying mechanism were used, it would prevent the weights causing noticeable differences to the distance that the wire has stretched.  Another problem, which I experienced with the weights, was the fact that more than one slotted mass hook to be applied to the wire.  If a device was prepared so that weights were added to the slotted mass alternately to prevent handling the weight to apply the mass.

If I were to carry out the experiment again, I would use a thinner wire, or one with a lower tensile strength.  This would mean that less weight is to be applied to the wire.  I would do this because if you look back at my results the first 60 or 70 Newton’s don’t affect the wire at all.  If the wire is going to snap sooner, it will mean that the wire will stretch less.    

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