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To investigate the effect of a change in mass on the time taken for a parachute to fall a set distance.

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Introduction

Task

To investigate the effect of a change in mass on the time taken for a parachute to fall a set distance.

Other variables that could be investigated are:

· Surface area of the parachute
· Length of string (between the parachute and mass), which might control the volume of air under the parachute.
· Distribution of mass, i.e. perhaps on the parachute itself as opposed to on string attached to the parachute (this of course would not be a continuous variable so it would not be of great value).

Method

One parachute was assembled using a square of bin liner, thread and sticky tape. The thread was tied in such a way that plasticene masses could be attached. For each mass, the experiment was performed three times and after completion, the entire investigation was repeated.

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Middle


Acceleration = Increase in Velocity
Time

Results go here

Analysis

· The first prediction, albeit rather basic, was correct and, although it was not tested, it is safe to presume that this is due to the fact that when the mass is larger, so is the terminal velocity. This means that the parachute can accelerate to a higher velocity resulting in a shorter time.
· As can be seen from the graph entitled “Average Times,” it can be seen that the drop in time is rather large to begin with but gets smaller as the mass increases. This cervical result leads one to believe that there is a limit to the terminal velocity. This would imply that once a larger mass is added, a “terminal” terminal velocity (for want of a better definition) is achieved beyond which a parachute cannot accelerate.

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Conclusion


· As far as inaccuracies are concerned, it is obvious to see, from the Average Times graph, that the most problematic results are those measured for a mass of 8g. Fortunately, they even out to provide a good average curve.
· Another problem could be the results for a mass of 20g where you can see that the results seem to converge as opposed to following the otherwise reasonably error-free curve.
· Lastly, it must be further re-iterated that the Average Accelerations, and to a lesser extent the Average Velocities, use very inaccurate results due to the fact that the final velocity, and therefore the acceleration, is unknown. Therefore, the graphs of those results show very little of value other than to highlight the aforementioned inaccuracies, because they show up much more on those graphs.

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