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Investigation of the Rubber Band as Propulsion Device

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Amelia Zhang

Design: Investigation of the Rubber Band as a Propulsion Device


        The propulsion ability of a rubber band is determined by numerous factors, which relate directly to the rubber band itself (e.g. spring constant), as well as how the rubber band is projected (e.g. the angle of propulsion, friction on the object…). The factors that will affect the efficiency of a rubber band as a propulsion device are too vast to simply investigate in one single experiment. Ultimately the decisive factor for the efficiency of a rubber band as a propulsion device will depend on the elasticity; hence this experiment will focus on how heat will affect the elasticity of the rubber band.

Research Question:

How does heat affect the elasticity of a rubber band?


        Understanding that the rubber band is a polymer, and will go through stages of glass range, elastic range and viscose range, I am quite sure that at extreme low temperatures, the rubber band will be brittle and break.

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  1. Rubber bands of the same type, brand, and length.
  2. ruler
  3. Newton Meter
  4. coffee filters
  5. blow dryer
  6. ruler
  7. thermometer
  8. thermocouple
  9. 50 gram weight
  10. glass tube
  11. paper clip
  12. Nitrogen ice
  13. Freezer
  14. timer


  1. Ensuring the rubber bands at room temperature are of same elasticity
  1. Measure the original length of the rubber band.
  2. Hang one side of the rubber band on the Newton meter
  3. Connect the other using a paper clip to the 50 gram weight, note down the force shown on the Newton Meter.
  4. Use a ruler to measure the stretched rubber band
  5. Using Hooke’s law F=-kx, to calculate the elasticity for the rubber band.
  6. Repeat till you obtain 30 rubber bands of the same elasticity.
  1. Creating Environment (Temperatures) for measurements
  1. -100 Degrees
  1. Fill the bottom with nitrogen ice
  2. Leave rubber band suspended in the glass tube for 15 minutes (Careful not to let it come in contact with the nitrogen ice, as it may stick on it)
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Measure the length of the stretched rubber band after it has hanger for 60 secondsCalculate elasticity using Hooke’s lawRepeat 10 trials


  • The temperature for the 10 trials of each group will be extremely hard to be exact, hence in order to make the data closer to realistic, I will use the average the data obtained from the 10 numbers, and ignore the outliers.
  • The length of the rubber band can not be measured accurately; I will try to obliterate this problem through measuring numerous times and using the average.
  • It is hard to hang the weight on the rubber band for exactly 60 seconds; hence multiple trials and obtaining the average will be used again.


        I will average the data for each temperature group, and use these averages to plot a diagram of heat in relation to elasticity. I will see if I can observe a mathematical relationship, and calculate the function of it. Yet there is another error I only have 5 points of a temperature, and this polymer is almost surely not going to be a linear function, hence 5 points will not be sufficient to graph the graph precisely.

...read more.

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