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Potential energy in an elastic band that is transformed into kinetic energy and the distance the band flies when fired

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Physics Coursework

Aim: I aim to find a link in the relationship between the amount of potential energy in an elastic band that is transformed into kinetic energy (when the band is fired) and the distance the band flies when fired.


I think that the higher the potential energy of the elastic band, the higher the kinetic energy will be meaning that the band will fly further and the work done will be higher. I also think that as I pull the elastic band further back (thus increasing the work done and the potential energy) and fire it, it will have a longer braking distance because it will have a higher velocity.



  1. Measure the distance each band stretches when it is pulled with each amount of force. You need to use forces from 1N to 6N with increments of 1N. Measure the length of each band when stretched in cm.
  2. Stretch the band over the edge of the ruler and pull it back to the length recorded.
  3. Fire the elastic band and record its distance and its approximate braking distance.
  4. Repeat each test 3 times to ensure a fair test.
...read more.









Work done = Force x Distance

1 = 11.66J

2 = 44.6J

3 = 69.6J

4 = 197.72J

5 = 268J

6 = 388.2J

We must consider that friction is working on the band when it hits the floor.

Friction can tell us the kinetic energy that the band has because if we can measure the braking distance of the band we can work out the Kinetic energy by taking friction and braking distance into account. I will be able to work out the friction acting on the elastic band by this because I will already know the kinetic energy of the elastic band because the potential energy is going to be more or less the same as the kinetic energy as only very little energy will be lost to sound and heat energy when the elastic band is fired.

I can work out the friction acting on the bands in this way:

K.E = P.E =

  1. 11.66J divided by braking distance (1.5) = 7.77N
  2. 44.60J divided by braking distance (2.53) = 17.63N
  3. 69.60J divided by braking distance (3.27) = 21.3N
  4. 197.72J divided by braking distance (5.93) = 33.34N
  5. 268J divided by braking distance (8.07) = 33.21N
  6. 388.20J divided by braking distance (7.5) = 51.76N


My preliminary results are very varied and therefore unreliable.

...read more.


If I did this experiment again I would make sure it was in a far more controlled environment than the classroom because people can get in your way or distract you from your work. I would also take extra care when using the levelling equipment to make sure that my elastic band was exactly parallel to the ground every time it was fired.

I have found out from this experiment that there is a direct relationship between work done, potential energy and kinetic energy and that these can be used in combination with braking distance to give a result for the amount of friction exerted on contact with the floor. However I don’t think that friction can stay constantly at that value because as the band slows down there will be no need for friction to be so high, so I think that friction must be directly proportional to velocity.

...read more.

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