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Joshua Saxton

Physics Acceleration/Airtrack lab

1st/2nd period, Ap C


The purpose of the lab was to investigate the effect of mass on the acceleration of an

In this case our object was on a frictionless surface so acceleration was not constant and
thus we had to determine it each time. We tested two different setups of the system. One where
the mass of the object was changing but the force was held constant throughout; and the other
where the force was changed while the object had a constant mass.
Our object, an airtrack slider was tested using an airtrack and the time it took to get a
certain distance from point A to point B as the slider was pulled down by the opposing force in
the system. Weights were taped around the slider to change the mass of the object by about 20
grams per trial, while more masses were added to change the opposing forces mass. The
opposing force, gravity, was able to move down to at least one meter since we put 6 or 7
textbooks under the track to lift it. Each test for speed was run by 3 different people
simultaneously with stopwatches which gave us 3 trials for each measure.

Mass of Object Average Acceleration

495.7 3.905

475.7 2.15666

455.7 1.656666

435.7 1.53

415.7 1.242

395.7 1.0375

375.7 0.83

Table 1: Table showing Mass of Object vs. Acceleration

Graph 1: Mass of Object vs. Acceleration

Y = .0003 x2 - .2805x + 42.154
Mass of Weight on Force (g) Average
20 3.905
40 2.15666
60 1.656666
80 1.53
100 1.242
120 1.0375
140 0.83

Table 2: Weight of pulling force vs. average acceleration

Graph 2: Weight of pulling force vs. average acceleration of slider

Y = -.0212x + 3.4623


It is interesting to see that with the weight on the air track, it seemed like the more mass
was added to the slider(pullee) the faster it went. This is somewhat illogical. However, it made
sense when we considered that at less mass it is moving at constant velocity. Without the masses
pulling it down, giving a simple push would give it a constant velocity so the same should
happen if we almost make the masses zero. This also means that we had started by going over
the frictional coefficient since acceleration was increasing with less mass.
The second part of the lab is also surprising. We expected the acceleration to increase as
weight was increased. However the opposite proved true. Probably, the data was either recorded
backwards or it is errors in the timing of the trials.