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Ryan & Naila

Wed. lab per.

Gravitational Acceleration Lab Report
The purpose of this experiment is to determine the acceleration due to gravity
experimentally by measuring the time of free fall of a ball bearing from a known
The ball bearing was secured to the dropping mechanism. We then measured the
height from the top of the target plate to the bottom of the ball bearing and took
this value for our height. Then with the ball secured we reset the timer unit and
released the ball. We had trouble initially lining up the dropping mechanism so it
would drop the ball on the target plate, but this was resolved rather shortly through
trial and error. After dropping the ball we recorded the time the ball took to drop and
repeated this 10 times from this height and recorded all times. We then repeated
the experiment from 3 additional heights, ten drops each. The last part of the
experiment required us to use the same procedure only the drop had to be from a
meter and a half height at least. To accommodate this we set the target plate on the
floor and moved the dropping mechanism to the edge of the work bench. We then
carried out the experiment as per the previous procedure.
To calculate the gravitational constant we started with the equation y(t)= y 0
+ v0 + 1/2 a t2 since for all the drops y0 = h ,and a = -g, we rearranged the
equation and solved for g to get g = 2h/t 2.
Data / Graphs:
See last page
1. There were a few sources for error that were apparent while doing the
experiment. The main source of random error was the air around us causing wind
resistance and any lateral movements due to wind. Sources of systematic error
included the fact that the release plate was a little loose which lead to some slight
variance in the height the ball was dropped from, at time up to 2 mm. Measurement
of the height of the ball with a meter stick was not very accurate either.

2. I don't expect the values of g to be the same for the different heights because for
the calculations we didn't factor in air resistance. Due to this I expect the value of g
for to decrease as the height increases.
3. The values of g in a vacuum would be the same because gravity effects all
objects the same, however in this experiment the heavier ball would probably be
bigger and thus would be slowed down more because of air resistance.
4. In the experiment we measured from the bottom of the ball because the bottom
of the ball is what will make contact with the pad. If you were to measure from the
middle of the ball you would have to measure from the middle of the ball in the
clamp to the middle of the ball sitting on the pad. If you measure from the bottom
of the ball it simplifies the situation because you only have to measure to the
surface of the pad.
5. The data from h1 was the most accurate because our <g1> at 9.821 m/s2 was the
closest of any to the accepted value for g which is 9.81 m/s 2. The data from h3 gave
us the most precise values for t however due to the increased height h 5 had the
most precise values for g.
In determining the acceleration due to gravity (g) experimentally in the lab a
few surprises arose. As the height (h) of the drop increased the variation in times of
drop generally increased also, however the variation of our calculated values of g
became less varied. This is probably due to the fact that in our calculations of g, h is
first order and time is second order. So even though as the drops got higher the
variation in time increased, g became relatively less varied.
The results were not very close to our generally accepted value. This was
surprising, and is most likely due to a number of types of errors in the experiment.
First of which was measurement error. When measuring the height of the ball we
used a meter stick which was not very accurate. We also noticed that due to the
release plate being rather loose, the ball was not dropped from exactly the same
height every time. There was also some error due to air resistance which we did not
account for in this experiment or our calculations. The experiment, however went as
well as could be hoped for using the relatively inaccurate tools that were available
to us in the lab, and proved to be quite informative.