IB Physics IA | Projectile Motion (Mechanics) | Possible Research Questions
If you are considering doing your IB Physics IA on projectile Motion - it’s probably a good idea!
You can investigate it easily in a school lab and the data is easy to linearise. You just have to be careful not to make it too easy or investigate a ‘standard experiment’.
Standard experiments would be (AVOID THESE!):
- Finding the acceleration due to gravity on the Earth’s surface using projectile motion
- How does the horizontal speed of a projectile affect the range?
You should also avoid questions that will have not work! In theory, mass will have no effect on a projectile. If you are considering investigating how the mass of a projectile affects its motion - don’t!
Let me make the process of finalising a research question easy for you… CONSIDER THE DRAG EQUATION
Drag Force = Cd * A * .5 * ρ * u^2
Cd: is the drag coefficient – a dimensionless coefficient related to the projectile's geometry and taking into account both skin friction and form drag.
ρ: is the mass density of the fluid
u: is the flow velocity relative to the projectile
A: is the cross-sectional area of the projectile
So you can use the variables in this drag equation to create a really interesting (and relatively easy!) physics IA research question.
Your research question should be in the form of:
How does Variable X affect Variable Y?
Choose one of the following for your variable X*:
- cross-sectional are of projectile
- density of surrounding fluid/gas
Choose one of the following for your variable Y^:
- horizontal range
- maximum height
Create a research question!
Examples of projectile motion research questions for you IB Physics IA include:
- How does the cross-sectional area of a projectile affect the horizontal range?
- How does the density of surrounding fluid of a projectile affect the time taken?
- How does the cross-sectional area of a projectile affect the maximum height?
These questions will have a relationship that is easy to linearise and will allow you lots of opportunities to expand you conclusion and evaluation of the experiment.
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