Abstract:
In an airtrack, the acceleration of the cart changes with a change in the hanging mass. This is based on Newton’s second law that states: F = m*a. We observed the relationship between the force of the hanging bobs and the resulting acceleration of the cart. We performed 6 sets of trials with a different number of bobs hanging, and had 4 runs per set. This way, we could change the force acting on the cart, and note the acceleration. We made sure the total mass remains constant by hanging the desired number of bobs on the string, and attaching the rest of the bobs to the cart. The acceleration was measured using a photo gate and necessary computer software. From these results, the slope of the force vs. acceleration graph was linear and positive. Therefore, the acceleration of the cart increased as the force of the hanging mass increased.
Experimental Design:
Group I 
Group II 
Group III 

Hypothesis 
Acceleration of the mass on the cart is directly related to the force of the hanging mass. 
The hanging mass value will affect the acceleration of the system. 
The acceleration of the block will remain unchanged due to constant force. When mass increases, acceleration will 
increase. 

Independent 

Variable 
Force due to bobs 
Number of bobs 
Number of bobs 
Dependent Variable 
Acceleration 
Acceleration 
Acceleration 
Control variables 
Mass of 1 bob = 4.84 g, Mass of gold cart = 
Mass of system= 
Mass of 1 bob = 4.5g 
0.159 g 
175.5g, Friction ≈ 0 
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Experimental Setup:
Figure 1: General Airtrack setup
Results:
Uncertainties:

U{mass of bob} = 0.05 g 

U{mass of cart} = 0.05g 

U{force of hanging bobs} = 0.05N 

U {acceleration} varies with each trial. They were obtained from Data Studio and are listed in the data table below. 
Group I:
# of hanging 
Force of hanging bobs 
Average 
bobs 
(N) 
Acceleration of cart 
(m/s ^{2} ) 


0.223 ± 6.3*10 ^{}^{4} 


0.464 ± 6.4*10 ^{}^{4} 


0.713 ± 8.3*10 ^{}^{4} 


0.967 ± 0.0012 


1.27 ± 0.0048 


1.45 ± 0.0041 
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Table 1: Collected data table for Group I (our group)
Figure
1: Force vs. Acceleration graph for Group I
Mathematical Model*: y = 0.0529x – 0.00328
*All mathematical models are for mass in g (NOT kg), although data in Table 1 and figure 1 is taking mass in kg
Group II:
# of bobs 
Hanging mass(g) 
Acceleration(m/s ^{2} ) 

1.20 


0.923 


0.727 


0.484 


0.242 
Table 2: Collected data table for Group II
Mathematical Model: y = 0.0529x+0.0026
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Group III:
# of bobs 
Hanging Mass(g) 
Acceleration(m/s ^{2} ) 

1.20 


0.967 


0.753 


0.507 


0.183 
Table 3: Collected data table for Group III
Mathematical Model: y = 0.0554x – 0.0262
Conclusions and Discussion:
In this experiment, we observed the relationship between the force of the hanging mass and the acceleration of the car in an airtrack setup. The independent variable is the force of the hanging mass, and the dependent (measured) variable is the acceleration of the cart. The total mass of the system was held constant. For example, in trial 1 for group 1, 1 bob was hanging, but the other 5 bobs were attached to the cart.
After analyzing the data, it becomes clear that the acceleration of the cart changes as when we change the force due to the hanging masses. The acceleration of the cart increased as we increased the force of the hanging mass (by adding bobs). Therefore, the research hypothesis was supported by our results.
Figure 1 shows the graph of the force of the hanging mass vs. the acceleration of the cart. The slope of the graph is linear, and positive. As the xvariable increases, the yvariable increases as well. This means that as the force and acceleration are directly related. For example, the acceleration of the cart with 5 hanging bobs (greater force) = 1.27 m/s ^{2} . This is larger than the acceleration of the cart with 2 hanging bobs (less force), which is equal to 0.464 m/s ^{2} . Acceleration consistently increases with force.
Data from another 2 other groups was collected to compare our results against, and to help validate and make out conclusion stronger with more evidence. Table 2 shows the table of the data collected by group II. The results are not in a graphical form, but we can see that as the hanging mass (force) increases, the acceleration increases as well. For example, the acceleration of the cart with 5 hanging bobs = 1.2 m/s ^{2} , whereas the acceleration of the cart with 2 hanging bobs = 0.484 m/s ^{2} . This validates the claim in the previous paragraph. The data is very similar to the data collected in table 1.
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Table 3 shows the data collected by another group (group III). We can see the same patterns in that data as well. The acceleration with 5 bobs = 1.2 m/s ^{2} and acceleration with 2 bobs = 0.507 m/s ^{2} . This makes our claim stronger.
The three mathematical models are similar as well. The mathematical models are:
Group I:
y = 0.0529x – 0.00328
Group II: y = 0.0529x+0.0026 Group III: y = 0.0554x – 0.0262
There are a few discrepancies in the data for the 3 groups. However, none of the errors are significant enough to refute our claim. The 3 mathematical models are nearly identical, but there is some error. The slope for group I and II is 0.0529 but the slope for group III is 0.0554. There is a 4.73% error in the data for group III. This slight error could have been caused by a few factors.
Random error includes error in measurement of the mass of the cart and the bobs. This error was accounted for by taking more data (4 trials per set), and averaging the values for acceleration. Friction on the track and in the string added to systematic error. In theory, the friction would be expected to be 0. All attempts were made to reduce the systematic and random error. The mass was measured carefully using a balance. Using an air track greatly decreased friction. None of these errors affected the data significantly. We are neglecting air resistance in this case; it is one of the assumptions we make. The only way to eliminate any error due to this would be to perform this in a vacuum, and that is out of our reach. The effect of air resistance is negligible, so it did not impact the final conclusion. A specific constrain in the system that might have caused the 4.73% error could be the use of different tracks and equipment by the 3 groups. The data might have been identical if the exact same track, cart, string and bobs were used. None of these factors were important enough to significantly affect our results or refute our claim.
Any changes in these factors would have changed the resulting mathematical model. The part of the model that would have been affected the most is the intercept. If there wasn’t any friction, and all the situations were ideal, it would have been 0.
The hypothesis for this experiment was supported; the force caused by the hanging bobs is related to the acceleration of the cart. As the force increases, the acceleration increases as well.
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