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Ticker Tape

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Physics Coursework                                                                                                          

An Investigation into Acceleration.

Theaim of this investigation will be to find out the numerical value of acceleration due to gravity. The variable that I will be keeping the same is the weight of the object, which will be one hundred grams.

The equipment that I will be using is as follows:  

  • Ticker-timer
  • Power supply unit
  • Connecting Wires
  • Ticker-tape
  • Cello tape
  • Weight (100g)



  1. First I collected the relevant pieces of equipment and then set the experiment up accordingly, as shown above.
  2. Once I had done this I then collected a one hundred gram weight and then some ticker tape, which was around 1.5 meters in length (150cm).
  3. I then proceeded to the next step of the experiment and attached some of the ticker tape to the weight with some cello tape to ensure the tape was held in place securely.
  4. Furthermore, I then slid the beginning of the ticker tape through the metal housing in the ticker timer. I carried on doing this until there was around 25 centimeters of tape left before the weight would touch the ticker timer’s metal housing.
  5. I then held the weight in my hand and then my partner lifted the ticker timer then I turned on the power supply to the ticker timer.
  6. Once the ticker timer was on I released the weight.
...read more.



        Hypothesis:I believe that the trace produced will show that the space between the dots gradually increases. This will then allow me to find out the value of acceleration.

        One factor that will affect acceleration is the potential energy.Potential energy is stored energy possessed by a system as a result of the relative positions of the components of that particular system. In this case it is a weight with a mass of 100 grams, which is attached to a length of ticker tape; this is held at a certain height, and then released. In this experiment gravitational potential energy, is changed to kinetic energy. The weight then accelerates downwards.

        Acceleration is a vector quantity which is defined as "the rate at which an object changes its velocity." An object is accelerating if it is changing its velocity. Objects in a gravitational field experience a downwards force, this is usually their weight. If this is unbalanced, this will result in acceleration downwards. In this case the forces are unbalanced the downward force is greater and it falls to the ground.


        There are many things that could have been improved in this experiment, an example of this is the ticker timer was not placed on a solid surface, instead it was held.

...read more.


        Another improvement could have been to use a light gate, as this would have allowed more accurate results:


1.   Set up the equipment as shown. Measure the mass of the trolley car with string & interrupt card attached.

2.   Launch and set-up the Timing Software.

3.   A set mass of 100 grams will be used.

4.   Hold the trolley car in the start position.  Check that the string moves freely over      the pulley with the weight attached and that the trolley car will move in a straight path through the light gate without colliding with anything.

5.   Return the trolley car to the start position.  Click on the Run icon to start the timing software and release the trolley car.  The acceleration of the car will be measured as the interrupt card passes through the light gate and should appear in the Table & graph on the computer screen.

6.   Click on the Run icon to turn off the timing and move the car back to the start position.

7.   Click on the Run icon to re-start the timing & release the trolley.

        This is an alternative method that can be used to calculate acceleration due gravitational potential energy.

...read more.

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