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Practical Investigation into the Horizontal motion of a Projectile

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A2 Physics – Practical Investigation

Practical Investigation into the Horizontal motion of a Projectile


The aim of this investigation is to determine the horizontal motion of a uniform particle when released down a ramp at varying speeds.   The manipulation of speed will be achieved by positioning the projectile at different heights above a table, on a ramp.  I believe that the horizontal component of the particle's travel will be proportional to its starting height, thus, if one is doubled so is the other.


This experiment will require:

  • Ball Bearing - projectile
  • Ramp - Inclined to 50cm in height
  • Table - 80cm in height
  • Strip of white paper
  • Meter Ruler
  • Clamp Stand
  • Carbon Paper


During this experiment I will be using the "Start Height" of the ball bearing as the input variable, and "Horizontal Distance" as the outcome variable.  I will conduct the experiment three times for each height.  The data from these trials will be averaged to give a much more reliable figure.  These averages will be plotted on a graph to find any relationships and test proportionality.

Equipment Diagram:

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Using:                   s = ut + ½ at^2

0.8 = 0 x t + ½ x 9.8 x t^2

t^2  = 1.6/9.8  

                       = 0.163265306

    t  = 0.404061017

                       = 0.40 seconds

The time taken to reach the floor is 0.40 seconds.  This will be the same for all trials due to the fact that the ball bearing is always moving downwards with the same velocity, it is just moving horizontally simultaneously.

Horizontal motion must be considered to find the horizontal distance traveled.  There is no horizontal acceleration once the particle leaves the ramp, so the horizontal velocity will remain the same from that point.

So:                Distance Traveled = Horizontal Speed x Time

It would have

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Overall, the investigation has successfully proved my thesis that there is a relationship between the horizontal motion of a projectile, and it’s vertical starting height on a ramp.  This was also supported by the mathematical equations of motion.  Though under some circumstances it is possible to neglect factors such as air resistance, I would definitely consider it If conducting the experiment again.

Calvin Stewart – 13AMS

...read more.

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