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# AP Physics Mechanics Lab Activity Velocity and Uniform Acceleration (Spark Timer) ntrod!

ction
P!rpose
This lab activity is meant to solidify a students understanding of the concept of uniform acceleration. This activity will also introduce the user to some common problems students face in physics experiments.

"ack#ro!nd
Acceleration describes the rate of change in an objects velocity. Recall that velocity describes not only the rate of an objects motion but the direction of that motion as well. Therefore, an object could be undergoing an acceleration if the speed OR the direction is changing. This lab activity will focus solely on an objects changing speed. onsidering an object undergoing a change in speed !only", if the rate at which the change is occurring is constant then the object is said to be undergoing uniform acceleration. That means that the speed changes by the same amount in a given time frame. #n other words, the acceleration !rate" is constant. An object in free fall will experience a uniform acceleration !when air resistance is neglected". This acceleration is \$nown as the gravitational acceleration and has a value of %.&' m(s) near the surface of the *arth. This activity involves the use of a spar\$ timer. The spar\$ timer apparatus wor\$s by pulling a piece of paper through the timer while a spar\$ creates tiny burn mar\$s !in the paper" at very precise time intervals. The faster the paper moves through the device, the farther apart the burn mar\$s will be on the paper. The distance between the burn mar\$s and the rate at which the spar\$s occur can be used to determine the speed and acceleration of the paper through the device. The device used for this investigation wor\$s at a fre+uency of ,-./ert0. 1re+uency is the number of cycles that occur in a given time frame. The unit /ert0 is e+uivalent to cycles per second. 2o a spar\$ fre+uency of ,- /ert0 means that the device ma\$es ,- spar\$s every second. This means that the length of time between each spar\$ is '(,- second. #n the interest of saving time, you will measure every other dot, thus ma\$ing the time interval between mar\$s '(3- second.

Method
Materials
#n order to complete this investigation, each group of students will need the materials listed below. #f not already done so, assemble the set up as shown in the figure below. 4e sure to use the .clamp to mount the spar\$ timer apparatus to the table top. Spark Timer Apparatus 2 strips of paper (each 4 feet long) hanging mass meterstick
Note the paper !ill actually slide on the desktop" Spark timer paper

%anging mass

Proced!re
Equipment Safety Note do N T play !ith the spark timer apparatus" think that there is a pro\$lem then ask your teacher for help" nly use the apparatus as instructed" #f you

'. 1eed one strip of paper through the spar\$ timer. Attach the weight to the edge of the paper. 5a\$e sure that the weight and paper are clear to fall straight down over the edge. ). Turn on the timer and drop the weight. Once the weight has hit the ground, turn off the timer and remove the excess paper from the apparatus. Record the distance of the fall. 3. #nspect the paper. 6ou should notice a pattern of dots on the paper similar to those shown in figure 4. 7. Repeat steps ' 3 for the other strip of paper. 8hen you are finished experimenting, you should have ) strips of paper with similar patterns of dots.
&igure '

Analysis
(ou !ill complete the data analysis for this acti)ity on a separate sheet of paper" All !ork should \$e neatly hand !ritten" All ta\$les and graphs should \$e constructed using a ruler (on graph) paper" *hen responding to questions \$e sure to !rite in complete sentences and in such a !ay that the reader understands your response and the question" +se your data and o\$ser)ations to complete,respond to each of the questions \$elo!"

\$ata Analysis
'. *ach person !or pair of two" in your group should ta\$e one of the strips of paper !with the spar\$ patterns" for analysis. 1or each strip select the 3rd dot from the top, draw a circle around it and label it - !0ero". ircle and number every other dot thereafter ', ), 3, etc., to the end of the record. ). 5easure the position of each numbered dot by placing a meterstic\$(ruler with the '-.cm mar\$ at dot 9-, and reading the locations of the successive numbered dots. do will therefore e+ual '-.--.cm. 3. :roceed with the calculations to complete data tables A and 4. 4e sure to show your wor\$ for each uni+ue !type" of calculation; however do not be redundant in your wor\$. <otice that there is a shift in the data table. This is because for most of the data analysis you are finding the difference in data between two points = thats why the data table is set up to show information between the mar\$s. 7. On a sheet of graph paper, plot a graph of the distance !on the meterstic\$" verses time for your best data. 2ave room on the !same side" of that sheet of graph paper for a second graph !the two graphs together should occupy almost the entire front of the page". >. :lot a graph of speed versus time for the same data set. :lot each individual speed against the midpoint of the time interval !for example the first value you have for speed corresponds with -.>!'(3-".second ? '(,-.second". @raw a straight line which best fits your data points.

%ollo& Up On the back of your graph paper, answer each question. Be sure to include the question in/with your
answer and be specific. '. 1rom your distance v time graph determine the value of the initial velocity !v-" and the distance for t ? -.>.seconds. Then, using \$inematics e+uations !with the accepted value for gravitational acceleration", calculate the distance for t ? -.>.seconds. Auantitatively compare the extrapolated and calculated values of the distance. ). 1rom your speed v time graph, determine the value of the velocity at t ? -.>.seconds. Then, using \$inematics e+uations !with the accepted value for gravitational acceleration", calculate the speed for t ? -.>.seconds. Auantitatively compare the extrapolated and calculated values of the distance. 3. @etermine the slope of the straight lines for your velocity.time graph, thus obtaining the average acceleration for the entire motion. 5athematically compare the experimental acceleration to the accepted value for gravitational acceleration, %.&' m(s ). 7. 6ou were instructed to plot Beach individual speed against the midpoint of the time interval.C 8hy is the !average" speed plotted at the middle of the time intervalD #f, by mista\$e, the speed is plotted at the beginning or the end of the time interval, how will the slope of the line be changedD /ow will the value of v- be changedD >. The spar\$ timer is a pretty Bold schoolC piece of lab e+uipment. 4ac\$ in the day !when there wasnt easy !or any" access to computers and fancy digital timing devices or fancy !laser" photogate systems" scientists had to come up with a reliable method for timing moving objects. The spar\$ timer was it. 2o what do you thin\$ of the spar\$ timerD @o you thin\$ it is a reliable timing methodD 8hat advantages does it provideD 8hat disadvantages are thereD /ow well did 6OE wor\$ with itD @o you thin\$ you would get better with more exposureD

## 'rite !p Be sure to submit the following:

'. ). 3. 7. /andwritten data tables and sample calculations /and drawn graphs !both on the front of the same piece of graph paper". *ach should occupy about half of the page and be clearly labeled. /andwritten +uestions and answers for the follow up. 6our tic\$er tapes from which the data was analy0ed.

A:

## Physics ( Lab Activity

)ames* ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

## @ata Table A = 2par\$ @ata 2et '

5ar\$ <umber ' ) 3 7 > , F & % ''' ') '3 Avg ? G error? @istance on 5eterstic\$ !cm" '-.-@istance between mar\$s !cm" Average speed !cm(s" hange in speed !cm(s" Acceleration !cm(s(s"

8or\$(2ample alculations

## @ata Table 4 = 2par\$ @ata 2et )

5ar\$ <umber ' ) 3 7 > , F & % ''' ') '3 Avg ? Gerror? @istance on 5eterstic\$ !cm" '-.-@istance between mar\$s !cm" Average speed !cm(s" hange in speed !cm(s" Acceleration !cm(s(s"

8or\$(2ample alculations