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Investigating the factors related to the crater formed by a falling object.

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IB Physics SL 2

Leo Tran



Mr. Chorman

Design Lab

Investigating the factors related to the crater formed by a falling object.


The aim of the experiment is to investigate the relationship between the height from which a ball is being dropped on sand and the diameter of the crater it formed from its impact on the sand. This will be done by dropping the ball from fixed heights and then measuring the diameter of the crater formed for each height using an accurate meter scale.

If the drop height of the ball is increased then the diameter of the crater will also increase. As the drop height is increased, the potential energy of the ball will also increase since PE = mass * g * height.

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Data Table


± 0.5




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Since the residual for each mean value of the diameter of the crater is greater than the uncertainty of the meter stick (which is 0.5 cm), we use the greatest residual (which is 1.3 cm in this case) as the uncertainty value for each mean value of the bounce height.

Graph of the Data

Drop Height (cm)

Diameter Of The Crater (cm) ± 1.3 cm












The gradient of the graph is 0.100cm/cm. The graph is linear and proportional and all the data points lie on the best straight line (as constructed by the computer).

Next, I calculate the uncertainty in the graphing results.


The maximum gradient is 0.165 cm/cm and the minimum gradient is 0.035 cm/cm. Again, the best-straight line gradient is 0.100 cm/cm.

The gradient and its uncertainty are thus 0.100 ± (0.165 – 0.035)/2 = 0.100 ± 0.065 cm/cm.

So, gradient or slope and its uncertainty = 0.10 ± 0.07 cm*cm-1

...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

This report suggests a good investigation by choosing appropriate variables. However, due to the large uncertainties and small number of data points, an incorrect interpretation of the data has resulted. It is not a linear relationship as stated even though it appears to be. 3 stars.

Marked by teacher Pete Golton 06/06/2013

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