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Rocket Physics Lab

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I.B. Physics Internal Assessment: Rocket Lab

Miya Zhang

Purpose: Find the relationship between the mass of the paper rockets and the distance travelled by the rockets.

Independent Variable: The mass of the rockets

Dependent Variable: The distance travelled by the rockets

Controlled Variable:

The amount of air from the launcher

The angle of the launcher

Material of the rockets

Hypothesis: As the mass of the paper rockets increases, the distance travelled will decrease because the mass of the rocket is heavier with more amount of paper used.


Four pieces of 8.5 × 11 inch papers

Duck Tape

two meter sticks

A protractor

A scale

Tape measure

An I.B. chemistry textbook

An empty two litre plastic bottle

An L shaped tube

An eraser


Cut a piece of 8.5 × 11 inch paper in half by folding the shorter sides together to make two pieces of ½ sized papers.

Take another 8.5 × 11 inch paper and fold it into four equal sections by folding shorter sides together. Cut one quarter off to make a ¾ sized paper.

Take another 8.5 × 11 inch paper and fold it into thirds, then cut one-third off to make a 2/3 sized paper.

...read more.


Some obviously wrong values were omitted and those particular trials were performed again.

An average distance is taken from the five trails of each rocket.

Distance Travelled by different sized paper rockets

Full sized paper rocket (m) ± 0.005m

¾ size paper rocket

(m) ± 0.005m

2/3  size paper rocket

(m) ± 0.005m

½  size paper rocket

(m) ± 0.005m

Trial 1





Trial 2





Trial 3





Trial 4





Trial 5










Below is a table of data of the mass of the materials used.

The uncertainty in mass

...read more.


(m) ± 0.005m




My hypothesis where as the mass of the paper rockets increases, the distance travelled will decrease because the mass of the rocket is heavier with more amount of paper used is not supported.  A proportional relationship cannot be implied by the graph since the best fit line is not within the error range.  A reason for this may have been because the location where this experiment was conducted had ventilation systems which may be influenced the rockets. Also, in some trials, the rockets did not travel straight but since we only considered distance one dimensionally in this experiment, some results would have been larger if the distance was measured from the launching point. For the future, instead of four, a larger variety of differently massed rockets could be used. Also, the height (looking from a three dimensional point of view) as well as different shapes of rockets can also be experimented for further exploration.

If this graph was considered as a linear graph, the gradient would be -0.2142 m/g

The uncertainty of can be found from maximum and minimum lines.

Maximum slope = 0.0664 m/g

Minimum slope= -0.4693 m/g

Uncertainty = (Max-Min)/2 = 0.3 m/g

The gradient is therefore -0.2142 m/g ±0.3 m/g

...read more.

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