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Determining how the height of release affects the velocity of a basketball

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Akash Singh                2/15/2011

Physics SL                 Mrs. Trumic

Determining how the height of release affects the velocity of a basketball

Introduction: Velocity can be measured by the formulae of displacement over time. In this experiment we shall see how different heights of release for a basketball, can affect velocity.

Aim: This experiment is directed in the process of discovering how the changes in the variable of height can have an effect on the velocity of a basketball.


  • 1 Basketball
  • 1 Tape ruler
  • 2 Stop-watches
  • 1 hard flat surfaced object
  • Writing instruments


Independent Variable: Is the height from which the ball is released. We shall perform the experiment in this order of 4 measurements: 30, 60, 90, 120 and 150 cm’s.

Dependent Variable: is relied upon changes from the independent variable, and therefore we can identify it as time. The time it takes for the basketball to hit the ground after release, will change due to changes in the height.

Controlled Variable:

  • The same person releasing the ball
  • Air pressure and wind in the room, so it doesn’t affect the aerodynamics
  • The angle from which the ball is released
  • The basketball: so the mass and dynamics of the ball are the same
  • The same person calculating time with the stopwatch


  1. On a straight wall, use the tape ruler, to mark the following heights of release: 30, 60, 90, 120, 150 cm’s with a marker.
...read more.


Average Time (seconds)

1st trial

2nd trial

3rd trial





28.2 ± 9.0





36 ± 17.0





46.7 ± 15.0





54.8 ± 2.0





56.7 ± 7.0


All figures with more than 3 decimal places are shown to a smaller degree but the memory of calculator was used in calculations for the sake of accuracy.

Here I will show the workings for the processed data summarized in the previous table.

To find the average time:

Sum of readings / no. of readings


To find the average time from a release of 30 cm. You take the sum of the readings, which are the results from trials 1, 2, 3; which gives (37+25.5+22) / 3 = 28.2 seconds.

In order to find the uncertainty for the average time we have to use the following process: You take the average time and then you subtract it by the highest time. Additionally you take the average time and subtract it to the lowest time. You take the highest difference in the results and you add that to the uncertainty of the stopwatch which is 0.0005seconds.


Average: 28.2

Higher Uncertainty = 28.2 – 37 = 8.8

Lower Uncertainty = 28.2 – 22 = 6.2

Uncertainty for time of 30 cm’s = 8.8 + 0.0005 = 8.8005

= 9.0 seconds (1.s.f.)

The next step is to calculate the velocity, which can be found by 2 methods. Graphically or using the formula of velocity. We shall first analyze the graphical method:


Is attached at the back of the lab report.

...read more.


To improve I could maybe get two laser gateways, which self time using a computer, when the basketball is released and when it impacts the ground. This is a much more accurate result.

Due to this large uncertainty because of the synchronization, we should’ve also taken a larger number of data so we could have a more accurate overall average. And maybe, more people doing the stop-watch simultaneously which will allow us a more accurate reading.

Additionally there may also have been parallax error, caused when the ball has to be fixed to the wall at the x height. It may have been not precise.

To improve we could get a flat surface and place it exactly at the height. And then place the ball above it. And when you remove it, the ball falls, pentrating the laser and starting of the counter. Giving is us all in all much more accurate results. Although, this may be expensive to encourage.

...read more.

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