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Name​: My Nguyen

Date​: May 30, 2019

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


Independent Variable The incline of the ramp (cm)

- 6.2
- 8.7
- 11.2
- 13.7
- 16.2
- 18.7
- 21.2
- 23.7

Dependent Variable Force of the cart (N)

Controlled Variable Distance traveled by the cart ​(90 cm ± 0.5 cm)

The surface of the ramp

Mass of the cart ​(160.75g ± 0.5 g)

Diagram 1:
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


- Motion Detector - Logger Pro

- Wooden track - Pascar Cart
- Lab jack base 20 x 20 - Digital Scale

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
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
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

6.2 0.52 0.57 0.58 0.56 0.03 0.08948417

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
2 + trial 3
=​ 0.5233 + 0.5742
+ 0.5827
= 0.5601 m/s2 (± 0.005 m/s 2 )
Force = mass of the cart x average acceleration = 0.16075kg x 0.56 = ​0.09003072​N (± 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.

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 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.

Evaluation of the method

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

Improvements and extension to the experiment

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

"Inclined Planes." ​The Physical Classroom​,

www.physicsclassroom.com/class/vectors/Lesson-3/Inclined-Planes. Accessed 20 May


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

Apr. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvPrn3aBQG8. Accessed 20 May 2019.

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

YouTube​, uploaded by The Organic Chemistry Tutor, 1 Sept. 2017,

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ee6CHn0MRKE. Accessed 20 May 2019.

"What is Newton's second law?" ​Khan Academy​,


what-is-newtons-second-law. Accessed 20 May 2019.