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Physics Design - Leaky Bucket

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Physics Design – Leaky Bucket

Research Question: How does the distance of water squirted from a hole in a bucket vary with the depth at which the hole is?







Distance to which water is squirted


If a bucket is filled with water to a certain height and a hole is made at any height on the bucket, the water will squirt out to a certain distance, depending on the pressure it is at in the bucket. Pressure is the ratio of force applied to the area on which it is applied. If the pressure at which the water comes through the hole is to be equal to the pressure on all other points at that point, it will come through with a larger force than is put on the walls of the bucket.

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Water level


This must be kept constant because it affects the depth of water in the bucket.

Distance of bucket above the ground


This may affect the horizontal distance the water will reach, as air resistance will increase with increase in height above the ground.


  1. Take six identical plastic buckets of height 40 cm. Mark the 35 cm level on each bucket. Use a previously drawn stencil to mark holes to be punched in each bucket. Draw these holes at heights 30 cm, 25 cm, 20 cm, 15 cm, 10 cm and 5 cm on each bucket respectively.
  2. Carve out the holes using a knife. They could also be melted out. Care must be taken to ensure that the holes are of equal area, and preferably not too large in diameter.
  3. Take one bucket at a time, and place it on a stool.
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. Change the sheet of tissue like paper for each repeat to ensure more accurate results.

The data collected would be in the form of a table such as this:

Depth of Water / cm

Distance squirted / cm

Trial 1

Trial 2







The depth can then be plotted against the average of the two trials of the distance squirted on a graph to obtain a trend. It should show an increasing trend, as water pressure increases as depth increases and therefore this increasing pressure applied on the same small area of the hole pushes the water through with increasing force. As the force increases, the mass of water squirted remains the same as the area of the hole is the same, but acceleration increases. Therefore the distance it is pushed increases. However it is not certain whether this will be a linear or exponential increase as we do not know how the pressure varies with the depth of a bucket.

...read more.

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