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What affects the acceleration of a trolley?

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Hannah Greenslade                                                                              Y11 Science Coursework

What affects the acceleration of a trolley?      


An unbalanced force causes an object to accelerate. The acceleration happens in the same direction as the resultant (or unbalanced) force. The size of this depends on the mass of the object and the size of the force.

The force on a small object is bigger than the same force acting on a bigger object.

If the mass stays the same but the force gets bigger, the acceleration also increases.

The equation to find acceleration is:   image04.pngimage05.png when image08.png= acceleration, image09.png= velocity at the end, image10.png= velocity at the start, and image11.png= time

The variables which could affect the acceleration of a trolley down a ramp are:

The mass of the trolley, - (the size of the trolley), if the same force acts on a bigger object it will accelerate less than that force on a smaller object.

The continuous force, - (how much the object is pushed), the bigger the push or force, the bigger the acceleration.

The gradient of the slope, - (the height of the slope that the object moves down)

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The computer program which measures the acceleration of the trolley down the slope is accurate to 0.01 m/s/s. This will ensure that my results are accurate.

I will measure the acceleration of the trolley at each height three times, and then take the most sensible result or average, excluding anomalies and therefore ensuring reliable results.

Obtaining Evidence

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The fact that each of my experiments was done three times increases the reliability of my results. I think that it is important to do each experiment three times. That way, if you have very conflicting results, it is easier to see which the anomaly is and which the two reliable results are.

If I was going to re-do my experiments I would change a number of things. I would do more heights, increasing it to 60 or 70cms. That way, it is easier to see patterns on and draw conclusions from your graphs. I would be careful to keep all other variables, apart from the height, the same at all times. I would also try and be more precise about measuring the height of the ramp. These would make the experiment generally more accurate.

Another idea I had on how to perhaps make the experiment more accurate would be to use set angles rather than set heights. E.g. 5 degrees, 10 degrees, 15 degrees, and work out the height using trigonometry accordingly.

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