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**Lab 4 - Constant AcceIeration Down an IncIined PIane
**

Objective

To examine the motion of an object undergoing constant acceleration in one dimension.

To calculate acceleration and initial velocities from position (and velocity) vs time data.

MateriaI

Luctor air table, heavy steel puck, flat wooden blocks, meter stick, piece of plain paper to

place over carbon sheet

Diagram

Procedure

1) Before elevating the table, make sure the table is level. To do this; put a piece of paper

over the black carbon sheet, place the puck in the middle of the table, turn on the air pump,

and adjust the legs until the puck remains stationary (be patient - this may take some time).

2) Set the spark-timer interval to 50 ms.

Part a

1) Make your inclined plane by carefully inserting 3 blocks under the "single-leg¨ end of the

table. Place the puck at the top end of the table and allow it to slide down freely with the

spark timer turned on. Turn it off just as the puck hits the bottom in order to avoid creating a

series of "bounce-back¨ dots.

2) Measure the values of l ± Al, h1 ± Ah1, and h2 ± Ah2as accurately as possible and use these

values to calculate the angle 0 ± A0

Part b

Repeat steps 1) and 2) from part a using 4 blocks instead of 3. Use the same sheet of paper,

but make sure the two sets of dots are not on top of each other. Label each spark track (ie. 3

blocks, 4 blocks) so you know which data set each run represents.

Analysis

1) From your spark timer results select a point as your origin. Your origin should not be your

first point, as you want to choose a point at a time when the puck was moving freely (and was

not in your hand).

2) Once you have chosen the origin on your paper, measure the distance (x) to each point

from your origin (you must have at least 10 values for x).

3) Once you have your x values, you can calculate the average velocity between points using

the equation, vav = Ax/t. The way to do this is by taking the distance between a point before

and a point after your chosen point to solve for each Ax. You will also need to calculate the

uncertainty for each velocity value. You are welcome (and encouraged) to do these and all

other calculations using excel.

4) Using the same method as for v

you can now calculate the acceleration using the equation

a = Av/t. Ìnstead of calculating the uncertainty on each acceleration value, take the average

of all your results and use excel to calculate the standard deviation of the mean. (This will

give you the best estimate of your acceleration ± its uncertainty).

An example using this process is illustrated below, the velocity highlighted in green is

calculated from the two green positions (

v

x

x

t

t

cmcm

s s

cm s

), and the same

for the velocity highlighted in red. Of course with this method, the very first and last velocities

cannot be calculated. The same process can be performed to calculate the acceleration

since it was assumed constant.

5) Make two data tables (one for part a and one for part b) including: x ± Ax (measured), t, v ±

Av (calculated),

**and a (calculated). Be sure to include proper titles, identifying labels, and
**

units. Note: Both tables should fit on a single page.

6)Plot a graph (in excel) of x versus t and a graph (in excel) of v versus t for both spark-

tracks (4 pIots in totaI) using the information from the tables constructed in step 5). Use a

single set of axes for both sets of points (two data sets for each graph). Each graph should

be presented on one full page. Be sure to include proper titles, identifying labels, and units.

7) Plot smooth curves through the points on the x versus t graphs using the quadratic (2nd

order poIynomiaI) option for the trendline equation. Plot the best straight Iines through the

points on the v versus t graphs. Compare excels trendline equations with the kinematics

equations, x

f

x

i

v

i

t

at

**for the quadratic plot and
**

v

f

v

i

at

for the linear plot. This will

enable you to determine the initial velocity (vi) and acceleration (a) from each plot.

8) Use your calculated 0 ± A0 values to obtain the theoretical values of the acceleration (and

its uncertainty Aa) for each track using the formula: a = gsin. Ìn Montreal, the local value of

g is 980.6 cm/s

2

.

9) Compare the different calculations of the acceleration of the puck using a table like the

following:

10) You do not have to calculate uncertainties from your trendline results but use the

uncertainties from your average accelerations and theoretical calculations to see if the

different calculations agree with each other (present your comparison like in point 3 of

uncertainties.pdf). Ìf they do not, you must discuss the cause of this discrepancy.

Lab Report Structure and GuideIines

For this experiment, your report should consist of the following parts (if you would like more

detailed descriptions of the requirements refer to Components of a Lab Report in your

lab_presentation.pdf document):

TitIe page: Title of experiment, date experiment was performed and submitted, your name

and your partner's name

Intro: Maximum one-half page. Ìnclude a small diagram of the setup and describe what you

did in the lab.

Theory: Describe the physics for an object undergoing constant acceleration. What do the

kinematics equations tell you about the motion of your puck? What happens to the puck's

position and velocity as it travels down the air table? How (and why) does the acceleration of

the puck change as you increase the angle of inclination? At the end of this section describe

what you expect the results of the experiment to show. You will refer to this later in your

conclusion.

AnaIysis and ResuIts: Each section should have a heading that "telegraphs¨ to the reader

what is coming next. Use tables and graphs (done in excel) with proper titles, headings, and

units. Show one sample calculation for each type of calculation (you are still required to do

this if your calculations were done using excel). Add brief summaries or commentaries after

each section.

Conclusion: Maximum one-half page. Use your results to indicate how well (or badly) your

expectations (from the Theory section) were satisfied. Ìnclude final numerical results along

with uncertainties and a statement as to whether the results agree, or disagree, with the

expected or accepted values. Ìf the results were not very good, try to explain what might

have gone wrong. "Human error¨ is not a reason. Ìf there was a significant error, say why that

was the case, and why it could not be corrected.

Luctor Sheets: Hand these in with your report, with both partners names written on them.

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