Acceleration Due to Gravity

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Acceleration Due to Gravity
Introduction In this lab you will measure the acceleration due to gravity near the earth’s surface with two experiments: first, by determining the time for a steel ball to fall a known vertical distance (free fall), and then second, by measuring the velocity of a cart at various points as it glides down a slightly inclined and nearly frictionless air track (slow fall). Equipment Part 1: Free-Fall • Free-fall apparatus (steel plate, drop mechanism) • Electronic Timer • Steel Ball

Part 2: Slow-Fall • Air Track • Electronic Timer (may be different brand/model than in Part 1) • Gliding Car • Laser Photogate

Background: Free Fall Acceleration Under the constant acceleration of gravity near the Earth’s surface, g, the vertical position, y, of a falling object is related to the time it has fallen by 1 y = y 0 + v 0 t " gt 2 2 where y0 and v0 are the initial position and velocity, respectively. The distance fallen after a time, t, has elapsed is: ! 1 y 0 " y = gt 2 " v 0 t 2 If you release the object from rest, v0 = 0, the equation simplifies to

! y0 " y =

1 2 gt 2

By varying the distance the ball drops and measuring the corresponding transit times, we can determine the acceleration of gravity from a best fit line to a linear graph of the experimental data. ! ! Procedure: Free-Fall Acceleration A diagram of the experimental apparatus is shown in Figure 1. When the ball loses contact with the release mechanism, the timer starts counting. It stops when the ball strikes the steel plate. The release mechanism can be adjusted vertically to vary the distance that the ball drops. Equipment Notes If you are using the Blue Timers: • Depress the POWER button until it locks in and the display comes on. • Engage the T2-T1 and TIME buttons. They should stay in, and a greenish-yellow color should be visible through the windows on the front of…...

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