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Determination of the acceleration due to gravity using a simple
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AS Physics Coursework
Page of
Hannan Shah
AS Physics Coursework
Page 1
Determination of the acceleration due to gravity using a simple pendulum
Level: GCSE
Subject: Science
Front viewSide view
Word count: 1741
First a long piece of string (approximately 1.5m long) was tied to a bob. A metre rule was used to measure a length of
1.2m from the centre of mass of the bob to the string. The remaining length of string was placed between the
wooden blocks and clamped to the retort stand, as shown above. The wooden blocks were used to define the right
angles to help when measuring the displacement and also to measure the string again to ensure it is still the same as
the original measured length.
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Once the equipment was set up the bob was given a displacement of approximately 10 degrees and let go. The
displacement has to be of this magnitude or else the error when calculating 'g' using (T = 2π√l/g) will be greater.
The stopwatch was started once the bob passed the fiducial marker (this is used to indicate the beginning of an
oscillation). The timing was stopped once twenty oscillations were complete. Twenty oscillations were used to try
and minimise the error that arises through the reaction times in stopping and starting the stopwatch.
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...read more.
±0.5 degrees as each measurement is given to the nearest degree.Parallax error: Mistakes can be made when
making measurements or when choosing the moment start/stop the stopwatch as the bob arrives at the fiducial
marker. This can cause errors, especially if the pendulum is swinging quickly.Random error: These are associated
with nearly all measurements and can never be completely eliminated.
Take three sets of readings and then take the average of those readings. I will do this to eliminate any
anomalous results. If I only take one reading it could be an anomalous result but I won’t know this unless I
have more sets of results to compare my data with. Multiple readings ensure that anomalous results are
spotted and eliminated.
To make my calculation I plotted a graph of T2 (y axis) against length (x axis). This allowed me to calculate 'g'.
T = 2π√l/g it would be more complicated to work out 'g' if T was plotted against length as the graph produced
wouldn't be a straight line. By squaring the whole equation you get T2=4π2(l/g) or T2=(4π2/g) x l. Compare this to
By plotting T2 against length the line should pass through the origin (because the c=0) with
gradient=4π2/g. By simply rearranging this g = 4π2
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The experiment could be improved by either improving the reliability of the existing procedure. Increasing the
number of oscillations to further reduce the error caused during the timing could do this.
The value 9.84ms-2 is very close to 9.81ms-2. Considering that the percentage errors in time seem to be the largest I
predict that I could further increase the accuracy of the value obtained by eliminating the reaction times.
A more sophisticated experiment would definitely increase the accuracy in the timings. Light gates would remove
the error caused by reaction times as they will accurately time the moment the bob passed over the point to
complete an oscillation. In the current experiment the fiducial marker was only used as a guide to a complete
oscillation. Also using a more rigid pendulum would further reduce the error.
There is a limitation with the graph paper used to calculate the gradient as its gridlines are only spaced in mm. If any
measurement required accuracy greater than the value scaled to 1mm then this simply wouldn't be possible. This
could be another reason why 'g' wasn't exactly 9.81ms-2.
The effect of air resistance on the pendulum could have been investigated by changing the displacement of the
pendulum. I could prove whether my hypothesis about the effect of air resistance on the pendulum was correct by
giving the pendulum a greater displacement and repeating the experiment.
...read more.
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Related GCSE Forces and Motion essays
The Simple Pendulum Experiment
Period of Oscillation of a Simple
The graph must not be misinterpreted, as the
graph goes up, this indicates that the pendulum is
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I must now theorise as to why the pendulum slows
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analysis, I have drawn graphs of the results, which
you can find on pages 11 and 12. The first of these
graphs show the time of the pendulum's
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Determining the acceleration due
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Investigating the period of a simple
pendulum and measuring
acceleration due to gravity.
A large and light pendulum bob would be
affected by a significant amount of air resistance.
This might change the way the pendulum moves.
Gravity The pendulum is moved by the force of
gravity pulling on it. On the Moon, where the pull
of gravity is less, I would expect the time for each
swing to be longer.
* A wooden clamp to reduce the effect of friction.
* I would also take the time period for 20
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for T. METHOD: * Set up the apparatus as shown
Measuring Acceleration due to
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The determination of the
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* Metre rule or stop watch not calibrated properly.
* Low resolution of measuring, less precise. *
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and then using this equation, I will be able to
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In this experiment I aim to find out
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Physics Coursework: To investigate
the Oscillations of a mass on a
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As soon as the load comes up and is about to go
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