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The aim of this investigation is to find out what effect of increasing the weight of an auto-gyro has on the terminal velocity of an auto-gyro, which is made to my specification.

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The effect of increasing the weight on the terminal velocity of an auto-gyro

The aim of this investigation is to find out what effect of increasing the weight of an auto-gyro has on the terminal velocity of an auto-gyro, which is made to my specification.

Input variables

In this experiment the input variables that I have are:

  • The weight of the auto-gyro by adding more paper clips
  • The length of the wing of the auto-gyro
  • The width of the wing of the auto-gyro

The variable that I will change is the weight of the auto-gyro by adding more paper clips.

Preliminary experiment

We did a preliminary experiment to ensure that the experiment will work efficiently with the variables chosen and that the experiment would give us a suitable range of results.

After doing this experiment I found out that the auto-gyro does reach terminal velocity after about half a metre of drop.


I predict that as more paper clips are added to the auto-gyro, the terminal velocity will increase.


I believe the terminal velocity will be higher as the size of terminal velocity depends on the weight of the auto-gyro. This is because terminal velocity is reached when air resistance equals the weight of the object.

If the auto-gyro is heavier then its velocity will be higher than if the auto-gyro is lighter. So the object will follow the drag equation:

D = Cd*p*A*V²

Where: Cd is the drag coefficient

...read more.





To do this experiment I will change the weight of the auto-gyro. First I will design and make my auto-gyro to the specification:

  • Length of wing – 10cm
  • Width of wing – 1cm

Once I have done that I will hold the auto-gyro 3m above the ground (using a stool to reach this height) and drop the auto-gyro from this height, first with no paper clips attached then each time adding one paper clip up until 5 paper clips have been added.

I will then use a metre ruler placed against the wall from the ground and use a stopwatch to time how long it takes for the auto-gyro to travel this distance.

When doing this experiment I will have to make sure I drop the auto-gyro from a suitable height so that I can make sure that terminal velocity is reached and it can be seen clearly.

I will repeat this experiment several times to ensure my results are accurate and reliable enough so that I can hopefully notice a trend and prove my prediction.

Once I have obtained these results I will plot them on a graph.


In this experiment I will take the following measurements:

  • Number of paper clips – 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
  • Time the auto-gyro falling at 1metre at terminal velocity
  • Length and width of wing
  • Repeat experiment several times to get consistent results
...read more.


To improve this I would drop the auto-gyro from a higher height such as 4 metres.

Reliability of results

I ensured that the results were reliable by repeating the experiment five times and there was very little variation between them, which showed that the results were good and gave a good average and showed a good trend/pattern on the graph.

Strength of results

I think that my results are quite good and reliable as it showed good trends. The results proved that my prediction was correct.


From this experiment I have come to the conclusion that the terminal velocity of the auto-gyro is effected by the weight of the auto-gyro, the greater the weight the faster the terminal velocity.

My conclusion also proves that the velocity is proportional to the velocity squared and that the drag equation applies, which demonstrates that my conclusion and prediction are correct.

Further work

To do further work I would investigate the length of the wing and see what the effect of the wing length is on the terminal velocity.

To do this I would do the same experiment as this one but instead of adding more paper clips I will just have one and I will decrease the length by 1cm each time.

For this experiment I think that as I decrease the length the time of terminal velocity will also decrease. When the length is shorter the faster the terminal velocity, this is due to air resistance.


...read more.

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