Velocity lab

To measure distances and times in order to determine the velocity of an object.
To look at the relationship between the height of the ramp and the resulting velocity.


The velocity of an object is determined by dividing its distance by the time that elapsed in time it took to travel that distance.  Or more simply: v = d/t.

An object can be accelerated by gravity by using a ramp (known also at the simple machine called an inclined plane) to turn the force of gravity on its side to roll a ball horizontally across a table.

Materials and Methods (Procedure)

The track
First, use a piece of tape to mark a place near the end table as the finish line.
Measure the distance from the end of the ramp to near the end of the lab bench where the “finish line” will be and record this on your data table.

The ramp
The first person in the group will set the middle (i.e., at the 50 cm mark) of the ramp across the ringstand.  Set it such that the high end of the ramp is the first height on the data table.

The first person will place the ball at the top of the ramp and release it.
The second person will be at the other end of the lab bench with a stopwatch.  The watch should be started when the ball reaches the end of the ramp and stopped when the ball reaches the finish line at the end of the lab bench.
The third person in the group will catch the ball and record the heights, distance(s), and times on the data table.

Repeat this step three times at each height (i.e., perform three trials per height).  Average the time of each run of the ball across the lab bench.

·Calculate the velocity of the ball in each trial from the distance and time data.


Ramp HeightTrialDistance (m)Time (s)Velocity (m/s)
10 cm1_______

20 cm1_______

30 cm1_______

40 cm1_______

50 cm1_______

The Graph

On a separate sheet of paper, make the following graph:
·Put the title at the top: The Height of the Ramp vs. The Velocity of the Ball.
·The x-axis should be the Height of the Ramp.
·The x-axis should be the Velocity of the Ball.
·Plot the appropriate data points.
·Draw a single straight line to connect them.

Why do we average several trials at each height of the ramp?

Why is the stopwatch started only when the ball reaches the end of the ramp?

Copyright Alexplorer. Some items taken from or adapted from other materials. This page is free for use in a classroom setting.
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