Science Fair Project Guidance - mass & velocity??

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Science Fair Project Guidance - mass & velocity??

Postby emmagirl » Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:41 pm

Hi -
We are trying to figure out where to find bibliography on our experiment. We are not sure as to what physic laws we need to look for, study and explore.
Our experiment consists of racing 3+ cars of different materials (i.e. wood, lego, styrofoam) several times and averaging the results.
Then, we want to make all the cars the same weight and race them again. We want to compare the difference between the first race and the second.
We "think" that the heavier car will beat the lighter car - by a lot. And when they weigh the same - who knows.
Our problem is we are not sure which law we need to be researching. Mass, energy, velocity. Any guidance will be very helpful.
THanks.
emmagirl
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:15 pm
Occupation: Parent of student in 4th grade
Project Question: We are trying to figure out what law/laws we need to use for the experiment. Essentially, we want to "race" 3+ cars of the same size - but made of different materials (i.e. legos, wood, styrofoam) to see which is the fastest. Then, make them all the same weight, and race them again - and see what was the difference between round 1 and round 2 (using the averages of several runs). We are not sure what laws we are supposed to look for - mass, velocity, kinetic energy.
Project Due Date: Our project is due in February. However, our bibliography is due this week - meaning where we are getting our information from.
Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Science Fair Project Guidance - mass & velocity??

Postby DharmanKothari » Sun Oct 21, 2012 7:02 pm

Hello and welcome to Science Buddies,

It seems to me that what you are trying to do is to race cars of different mass down an incline and then make them of the same mass and try it again. Now assuming that you will race the cars down a plane downward incline, all you will need, once you have conducted the experiment is the knowledge of the force of weight and friction. A simple way of explaining the physics of this experiment is that the bigger objects have more force to overcome friction.

You can read about bodies on incline and the effect of friction over here:
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/mincl.html


It is important to remove a misconception here. More massive objects having more force does not mean that a iron ball will reach the ground before a plastic ball of the same size when dropped from the same height. In a theoretical world of no friction, all balls and all cars regardless of their mass will reach the end at the same time. But because we live in an imperfect world, full of friction (no matter how hard we try), the iron ball and the heavier car finish first.

A deeper analysis of the role of friction is here:
http://galileoandeinstein.physics.virginia.edu/lectures/gal_accn96.htm
The two different ball experiment and it explanation:
http://galileoandeinstein.physics.virginia.edu/lectures/gal_accn96.htm

For an added challenge you can also actually calculate how fast each of the car should go using kinematic formulas* (*with the no friction assumption), but you would need to know the mass of the cars, the height of the incline, and the angle of the incline to the ground.

Here is the non-frictional physics behind what this experiment is about:
http://physics.bu.edu/~redner/211-sp06/class04/incline.html
(Although it is a bit math heavy for this level, its the best I could find)

Basically if you look up incline physics, you would get a whole lot of information to cite.

I know this stuff can be complicated, so let me know if you have any questions.
Dharman Kothari
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DharmanKothari
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Re: Science Fair Project Guidance - mass & velocity??

Postby emmagirl » Sun Oct 21, 2012 8:36 pm

Thank you so much! Now we know where to start. We had an idea of what we wanted to do, but we didn't know how to approach the math/scientific part of the equation.
emmagirl
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Oct 21, 2012 4:15 pm
Occupation: Parent of student in 4th grade
Project Question: We are trying to figure out what law/laws we need to use for the experiment. Essentially, we want to "race" 3+ cars of the same size - but made of different materials (i.e. legos, wood, styrofoam) to see which is the fastest. Then, make them all the same weight, and race them again - and see what was the difference between round 1 and round 2 (using the averages of several runs). We are not sure what laws we are supposed to look for - mass, velocity, kinetic energy.
Project Due Date: Our project is due in February. However, our bibliography is due this week - meaning where we are getting our information from.
Project Status: I am just starting


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