Friday, 12 July 2013 16:32

C2-11 RACING BALLS Featured

Additional Info

  • ID Code: C2-11
  • Purpose: Illustrate linear kinematics
  • Description: Two balls are launched by a spring-operated launcher from one end of the track. They depart with the same velocities and the same kinetic energy imparted by the spring. As shown in the picture, one track runs in a straight line; the other dips down, runs straight for a time, then rises back up to the original level. Have students make predictions (and justify them) which ball will reach the end first, or if they will reach the end at the same time; and which one (if either) will be moving faster at the end.

    The ball on the straight track retains essentially the same velocity and the same kinetic energy throughout the length of its run, the kinetic energy from the spring. The ball on the dipped track, however, has a more complex path. When it goes downhill, it gains kinetic energy from gravitational potential, accelerating it. It travels along the lower section of track with this increased kinetic energy, and thus greater velocity. The ball then goes uphill again, losing that additional kinetic energy – it has returned to the same height, so the principle of conservation of energy dictates that it must return to the same gravitational potential as before, giving up kinetic energy equal to what it gained. It now has only the same kinetic energy it started with, as imparted by the spring. So its velocity is now the same as its starting velocity, and the same as the velocity of the other ball. However, during the time it was on the lowered section track, it had greater kinetic energy and greater velocity, so it traveled that distance faster than the ball on the straight track. And thus the ball on the dipped track reaches the end first, but with the same final velocity and the same final kinetic energy.

  • Availability: Available
  • Loc codes: OS0
Read 2923 times Last modified on Wednesday, 16 September 2020 16:14
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