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Things that affect the speed of a falling parachute.

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Introduction

Things that may affect the speed of a falling parachute are: * Parachute made wrong size * Hole on centre of parachute too small or too large * Strings wrong length * Timing on descent inaccurate * Wind affected parachute on descent * Holes made in wrong place The thing that I am going to control in this experiment is the surface area of the parachutes being dropped. Prediction My prediction is that, the larger the area of the parachute, the lower the rate of descent. This is because if the parachute is larger, it will trap more air underneath it and so the force of air resistance will increase, and it will take longer to fall. The smaller the parachute, the lower the force of air resistance is, therefore the greater the speed. The bigger the air resistance the quicker the terminal velocity is reached. The quicker the terminal velocity is reached the slower the terminal velocity is. The slower the terminal speed is the slower the decent. Terminal velocity is when the force acting down on an object (in this case gravity) is equal to the force acting up on an object (in this case air resistance). ...read more.

Middle

Following the first experiment, the second parachute can be made to similar proportions, but bigger. Diagram Surface area of parachute Time(sec) Average result 100cm� 1.2 1.3 1.1 1.3 1.4 1.26 200cm� 1.8 1.9 1.7 2 1.9 1.86 300cm� 2.6 2.8 2.7 2.7 2.5 2.6 400cm� 3.4 3.6 3.5 3.7 3.8 3.6 500cm� 4.1 4.2 4 3.9 4.2 4.08 Results Analysis I think that the graph showed that as the surface area got bigger the time the parachute took to reach the ground increased because as the surface area got bigger so did the air resistance and as the air resistance got bigger it equalled the force pushing down on it (gravity). When the air resistance equalled the force of gravity, the falling object had no resultant force. Having no resultant force means that the object will not speed up any further during its descent. If a mass has no resultant force it is moving at a constant speed in a straight line a. So the quicker the point of no resultant force is reached the slower the resultant force is because a mass is speeding up all the time that it is descending until it has no resultant force. ...read more.

Conclusion

I closed the windows and made as little movement as possible while conducting the experiment in order to prevent the wind from blowing the parachute. This was quite effective, as the wind could have easily blown the parachute off course or blown it up or down. I also used the same weight each time, in case the other weights were different weights, either by manufacturing fault or by usage of the weights, getting chips out of them or being otherwise damaged. This was useful because it made the test fairer, because lighter weights would make the parachute fall slower than normal, and bigger weights would make the parachute fall faster than normal. There was the problem of not have very accurate measuring instruments that could measure to the nearest millimetre accurately. The plastic was also very easy to fold and crumple, so it was not always flat, which could have changed the rate of descent again. As a further experiment to show that gravity is not the only force acting on the parachute is, if I were to conduct this same experiment in a vacuum because there is no air in a vacuum which means that there is no air resistance so all the parachutes no matter what there surface area would fall at the same rate and speed. Physics Coursework - Parachute investigation ...read more.

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