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Class: Science 9.05

The impact of different inclines of the ramp on the force of the cart

Research Question

What is the relationship between the incline of the ramp on the force of the cart, using the same mass of

the cart and pushing force?

Background Information

Newton’s Second Law was one of Isaac Newton’s first motion laws that he found. Newton’s Second Law

was first published in 1687 and defines itself that the force is equal to the momentum with the change in

time. Newton’s Second Law states that F = ma , where ‘F’ is the force, ‘m’ is the mass and ‘a’ stands for

acceleration. This formula does not equal to force but the net force, in other forms the equation can also

be written as a = ΣF

m . Based on this equation it can be inferred that acceleration is directly proportional to

force. This equation comes from “the rate of change of momentum of an object that is directly

proportional to the net force” (Newton's Second Law of Motion | #aumsum). A force is a push or a pull

and a net force ( ΣF ) is all the forces on an object, the direction that the object is pushed or pulled the

object will accelerate in that direction (What). “The acceleration and the net force always acts in the same

direction” (Newton's Second Law of Motion Explained).

An object that is on a tilted angle, often referred to as an inclined plane, usually slides down. The greater

the angle of decline is, the faster the object would slide down. According to The Physical Classroom,

“objects are known to accelerate down inclined planes because of an unbalanced force”. There are always

two forces that act on an object that is placed on an inclined plane, the normal force and the force of

gravity (Inclined). The normal force is the force that is perpendicular to the surface and the force of

gravity is a force that acts in the downward direction and the motion of the object (Inclined). When going

down an inclined plane there is a portion of gravity that tends to speed up the object.

If a motorbike was to go downhill with no force added, the motorbike would go down on its own due to

the downward force as well as the normal force. Furthermore, if the motorbike were on a steeper hill,

meaning the level of incline is greater, the person on the bike may have to use the breaks in order to gain

control of the bike and the speed at which the bike is going downhill.

Table 1: Independent, Dependent and Controlled Variables

Variable

- 6.2

- 8.7

- 11.2

- 13.7

- 16.2

- 18.7

- 21.2

- 23.7

Diagram 1:

Hypothesis

Inclined planes exert a net force on any object that is on it, pulling it towards the Earth's core, all due to

gravity. Since acceleration and net force are directly proportional, a higher net force originating from the

incline of the ramp increases the acceleration of the object on it. If the incline of the ramp increases by 2.5

cm then the acceleration will increase linearly, as shown in the prediction graph below. The prediction

graph also shows that the net force will also increase linearly, although the prediction graph also shows

that the linear increase won’t be exact, due to the uncertainties that come along with measuring in cm with

a ruler and all the calculations used in the formula to find force.

Graph 1: Prediction graph - The incline of the ramp vs. the force of the cart

Equipment

Equipment

- Wooden track - Pascar Cart

- Lab jack base 20 x 20 - Digital Scale

Methodology

1. Set up the equipment as shown in diagram 1.

a. Place the 90 cm (± 0.5 cm) ramp on the lab jack base (20 x 20). The distance traveled by

the cart will be 90 cm and the uncertainty is not 0.01 cm because it’s not realistic due to

the fact that the ramp was measured using analog equipment which is a measuring tape.

The distance needs to be controlled in order to examine the change in the force of the cart

in the short period of time on the different inclines of the ramp. To control this the cart

must always start at the same point. In addition, the surface of the ramp should also be

controlled due to the fact that the smoothness and roughness of the ramp will affect the

acceleration of the cart and thus affect the force. In order to make sure that the

experiment is fair, the same ramp surface will be used for all trials and manipulations.

b. Place an end stop at one end of the ramp.

c. Put the motion sensor on the other end of the ramp.

2. Use a digital scale to measure the mass of the cart in grams. The mass of the cart will be 160.8g

(± 0.5 g). The uncertainty is not 0.01g due to realistic uncertainty. The mass of the cart must be

controlled so that when the force is calculated using the formula, the same mass is used. The mass

is inversely proportional to the acceleration meaning that if the cart is heavier each time the

acceleration would decrease and thus the force would also decrease. To control this variable, the

same cart will be used for each trial.

3. Place the cart on the ramp.

4. Plug the Motion Sensor into the computer and open Logger Pro.

5. Set the graph on Logger Pro to velocity vs. time in order to later calculate the acceleration by

examining the gradient of the graph.

6. Increase the time in Logger Pro to 50 seconds. There are 2 ways to do this:

a. Go to the experiment menu and choose data collection

b. Or click on the clock icon that is left to the green collecting button.

7. Press start and record 3 trials for each incline of the ramp. If the results turn out consistent

without error then store the latest run by clicking the experiment menu and save.

a. Name the lastest run with the height of the incline of the ramp.

8. To determine the acceleration of the cart, make a linear line of best fit on the velocity vs. time

graph for each trial. The positive gradient (m) is the positive acceleration and record the values in

the table.

Sample table:

The incline of Acceleration of the cart (m/s2 ) Uncertainty Force of

the ramp of the the cart

(cm) Trial 1 Trial 2 Trial 3 Average acceleration (N)

9. Increase the incline of the ramp by 2.5 cm. Use a ruler to measure the height of the ramp in

centimeters.

10. Repeat step 5-7 until the total incline reaches approximately 23.7 cm.

a. The reason why the minimum value is at 6.2 cm because that’s the lowest the incline

could be. For the maximum value, it is the maximum incline that the ramp could go to

which is 26.2 cm this is because that is the maximum level of incline.

11. To determine the acceleration of the cart, the positive slope (positive acceleration) of the velocity

vs time graph will be selected and to be fit on the linearly fitted. The acceleration equals the

gradient of the slope (m).

12. Calculate the average of the acceleration of the cart using this formula:

a. Average acceleration = trial 1 + trial

3

2 + trial 3

13. Convert the mass of the cart to kg. Force unit of measurement is k g per m/s2 therefore you have

to convert the mass of the cart from grams to kilograms.

a. 1000g = 1kg

14. Using the average acceleration and mass calculate the force of the cart using the formula:

a. F = ma

15. Calculate the uncertainty in the acceleration of the cart for each manipulation using the formula:

a. U ncertainty = M aximum value 2− minimum value

Data collection

Table 2: Incline of Ramp vs. Acceleration of Cart to Calculate Force of Cart

The incline of Acceleration of the cart (± 0.01 m/s2 ) Uncertainty Force of the

the ramp in the cart

(± 0.5 cm) Trial 1 Trial 2 Trial 3 Average acceleration (± 0.00000001

of the cart N)

∆A (±)

0 0 0 0 0 0 0

8.7 0.69 0.86 0.88 0.87 0.01 0.13985250

11.2 1.19 1.29 1.40 1.29 0.11 0.20790333

13.7 1.55 1.47 1.73 1.58 0.13 0.25452083

16.2 1.47 1.61 1.57 1.55 0.07 0.24916250

18.7 2.49 2.44 1.99 2.47 0.03 0.39624875

21.2 3.06 3.23 3.09 3.13 0.09 0.50261167

23.7 3.50 4.38 3.67 3.59 0.09 0.57628875

Qualitative data

The higher the incline the faster the cart went. The cart was not accelerating at a constant speed.

Note: The measurements that are highlighted were not a part of the average and force of the cart because

they are outliers.

Controlled variables

Distance of the track (90 cm ± 0.5 cm), the surface of the ramp, the mass of the cart (160.75g ± 0.5 g)

Sample calculation

Convert mass from g to kg: 1g = 0.001kg, 160.75g = 0.16075kg

Average acceleration = trial 1 + trial

3

2 + trial 3

= 0.5233 + 0.5742

3

+ 0.5827

= 0.5601 m/s2 (± 0.005 m/s 2 )

Force = mass of the cart x average acceleration = 0.16075kg x 0.56 = 0.09003072N (± 0.0000005 N)

Data Processing

Raw Data

Quantitative Data

Graph 1: The time of the cart vs the velocity of the cart

Graph 2: The Incline of the Ramp vs the Force of the Cart

Interpretation of result/analysis

Looking at the table above, when the incline of the ramp increases the force increases with it. However, at

13.7 cm (± 0.5 cm) the force was 0.25452083 (± 0.00000001 N) but at 16.2 cm (± 0.5 cm) the force was

0.24916250 (± 0.0000005 N) meaning that the force decreases by 0.0053683 N (± 0.5 cm). The force

should have not decreased due to Newton’s Second Law stating that force is directly proportional to the

accel, this shows that there have been some errors. According to the graph above, at 16.2 cm the result is

an outlier, all the points on the graph weren’t on the line of best fit. The relationship is linear with a

gradient of 0.1518 N, meaning that every time the incline increases the force would increase by

approximately 0.15 N.

Conclusion

The results support the hypothesis due to the fact that as the incline of the ramp increased, the force also

increased. This is because when an object is placed on an inclined surface it would slide down the surface,

and Newton’s second law of motion states that force is perpendicular and parallel to the surface of the

ramp in which the force would increase by 0.1 N and result in a linear relationship. When examining the

results, the force did increase linearly as stated in the hypothesis; however, the predicted increase in the

force of 0.1N did not match the experimental results which were 0.15N and the experiment was off from

the prediction by 66.7%. This was found by dividing the slopes Newton force in the prediction graph by

the real force shown through the actual data recorded in the graph’s slope.

Based on the results from this investigation, there are 3 outliers: 0.69 m/s2 , 1.99 m/s2 , 4.38 m/s2 , which

affected the reliability of the data to determine if the hypothesis was supported by the data or not. The

highest uncertainty goes up until 0.13 which is really high for uncertainty. The uncertainty isn’t reliable

because there is a higher probability of having inaccurate data in between that range. This uncertainty was

of the incline of 13.7 cm (± 0.5 cm) where the results were 1.55 m/s2 , 1.47 m/s2 , and 1.73 m/s2 where the

range between the highest value and the minimum value was 0.26 m/s2 .

Evaluation

Evaluation of the hypothesis

The purpose of this investigation was to find “what is the relationship between the incline of the ramp on

the force of the cart”, which means that to see if the force increase or decrease as the incline of the ramp

goes up and down. The hypothesis was valid because the hypothesis enabled for students to learn about

the relationship between a ramp’s inclination and a cart’s force. The investigation demonstrates that the

force did increase but there was some error in between because one of the variables at point 16.2 cm did

not go with the trend, this affects the reliability of this hypothesis.

The method of this investigation was simple and it is easy for experimenters to follow. Using a Logger

Pro and motion sensor helped with reducing the time to find the acceleration of the cart, and simple to

understand the results of each manipulation. The software layout is easy to obtain the processed data and

easy to collect each manipulation. Although, the reliability of the method was shown to not be perfect

since there were 3 outliers found in the data, and one clearly shown in the graph.

A possible error that students could make with the above investigation would be placing the car not

carefully on the track. So, when they let it go, the car might be curved and more forces might affect the

data.

To improve the method in this investigation, the car needs to have an object in front of it so it slides down

by itself when pulling the object away to let the cart go down the ramp to prevent adding force to the cart.

By having an object in front of the cart, it can cause less error in the data collection because if using your

hand letting the cart go, the hand might have been in the way of the motion sensor and cause an error.

The ramp of this investigation was only 90 cm (± 0.5 cm) long which is a short ramp due to the fact that

when checking the graph of collecting data it was accelerating 1 to 2 seconds before the acceleration of

the cart was constant. But since the ramp was too short it was only constant for another 2 seconds before

it hit the endpoint and this gave an undetermined result. To improve this the ramp should be longer and

pay attention to how long the cart is accelerating at a constant.

The car was stopped by having an end stop at the end of the track. The type of end stop and the strength

of it used in the experiment is not known to students through the method, which means that some students

might use a low quality end stop or a very hard one. All these end stops would have an effect on how the

velocity graph would look like on Logger Pro. An improvement to the investigation could be to replace

the end stop with having a very soft basket or cushion to stop the car. Both of these options would be

viable because the car wouldn’t stop, and bang on something to stop. Having an end stop risks the

possibility of the reaction of stopping the car with the end stop showing up, since some students might

have a very hard end stop. ALong with that, there might even be some damage to the car if the end stop is

very dense and hard. Using a basket will allow for the motion sensor graph to look smooth and not have

any other reactions show up.

This investigation was about Newton’s Second law, and the law was what allowed for a hypothesis to be

formed. In order to extend the ideas that students will begin to form about Newton’s law, students can

begin to understand Newton’s first law as well through a similar experiment. This would happen through

removing the end stop from the bottom of the ramp. So, students would follow a similar process and

measure the distance that the car would travel with a motion sensor. Understanding this will lead to a

higher understanding about inertia, and having a better idea about an object's mass, and how important the

size of their mass is.

Another extension of this project would be to add an outside force impact on the object. So, instead of just

depending on the net force of gravity to push the object down the ramp, different sizes of springs would

be the independent variable, changing to see if this changes the velocity that an object can travel. Like the

above investigation, this would be measured through a motion sensor. Overall, this extension to the lab

would allow for students to learn more about the forces involved in inclined planes, and knowing how a

springs thickness can affect the force would add another aspect of the relationship into their learning.

Works Cited

2019.

"Newton's Second Law of Motion | #aumsum." YouTube, uploaded by It's AumSum Time, 17

"Newton's Second Law of Motion Explained, Examples, Word Problems, Physics - Mechanics."

www.khanacademy.org/science/physics/forces-newtons-laws/newtons-laws-of-motion/a/

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