Practical Investigation into the Horizontal motion of a Projectile

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A2 Physics – Practical Investigation

Practical Investigation into the Horizontal motion of a Projectile


The aim of this investigation is to determine the horizontal motion of a uniform particle when released down a ramp at varying speeds.   The manipulation of speed will be achieved by positioning the projectile at different heights above a table, on a ramp.  I believe that the horizontal component of the particle's travel will be proportional to its starting height, thus, if one is doubled so is the other.


This experiment will require:

  • Ball Bearing - projectile
  • Ramp - Inclined to 50cm in height
  • Table - 80cm in height
  • Strip of white paper
  • Meter Ruler
  • Clamp Stand
  • Carbon Paper


During this experiment I will be using the "Start Height" of the ball bearing as the input variable, and "Horizontal Distance" as the outcome variable.  I will conduct the experiment three times for each height.  The data from these trials will be averaged to give a much more reliable figure.  These averages will be plotted on a graph to find any relationships and test proportionality.

Equipment Diagram:

As shown above, the ramp will be positioned on the table using clamp stands and G-clamps.  The ramp will be approximately two centimeters away from the edge of the table to allow the ball bearing to begin it’s measured motion from a horizontal plane.  This is imperative to ensure that the vertical speed of the particle remains the same for every attempt.  The height of the table (H), and angle of the ramp will remain constant throughout the experiment.  The strip of paper will be running along the floor, in the path of the projectile.  Before initiating the main experiment, I conducted Preliminary experiments, releasing the projectile from various heights to find roughly where to position the carbon paper.  When released, the projectile should land on the carbon paper and leave a mark on the exact spot that it landed.  I considered this the most accurate method of measurement.  The distance traveled can then be measured from the carbon mark to the edge of the table.

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With an experiment of this nature there are not many safety factors to consider. However, I ensured that I conducted the experiment where nobody could slip on the paper on the floor, and attached all apparatus such clamps to the table securely.


To create a successful mathematical model of this scenario, I will not consider the air resistance of the particle.  Air resistance would not be very significant due to the fact that I am using a ball bearing of fairly high density.  This is exemplified by the equation:



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