Pre-Lab Questions

1. What is the acceleration of a ball that is vertically tossed up when it reaches its maximum height?

After the ball reaches its maximum height, the acceleration is positive 9.8m/s2

2. If you drop a ball, and then one second later drop a ball identical in mass, size and shape, what happens to the distance between them as they fall?

The distance between the ball will increase.

3. What does a positive and negative slope represent for a velocity versus time graph?

Experiment 1: Distance of Free Fall

In this experiment you will explore the time it takes for hex nuts at varying initial distances to hit the ground as a result of free fall. Hex nuts will be tied to a string, which will provide audible data for the rate of free fall as they hit a metal pan.



Catch Pan 6 Hex Nuts Scissors Stopwatch 2.5 m String

Tape Measure *Something Tall to Stand On

*You Must Provide


1. Develop a hypothesis for testing the effect of varying distances on time for objects in free fall. What do you predict will happen? Record your hypothesis in the Post Lab section in the answer space for Question 1.

2. Use the measuring tape and scissors to measure and cut 2.5 m of string.

3. Tie the hex nuts 40 cm apart along the length of the string, starting with one on the end. There may be extra string on one end of the set up.

4. You will have to stand on something tall enough for the length of string to be suspended. Try a chair, a ladder, or stairs with an open railing to one side. See Figure 6 for set up.

LAB SAFETY: Be careful that you are fully supported with whichever method you choose.


Figure 6: Nut spacing for Experiment 1.

5. Hold the string over the pan so that the first hex nut is slightly above the metal surface. Let the hex nuts come to as much of a rest as possible before dropping them.

6. Let go of the string and observe the resulting pattern of “clangs” as each hex nut hits. Do this several times to get an idea for the pattern.

7. Keeping one hex nut on the end, change the spacing between each successive hex nut to follow the series: 9, 27, 45, 63, and 81 cm (Figure 5b). Drop the string several times to observe the new pattern.

8. Remove one hex nut from the string.

9. Use the tape measure to choose a distance no taller than the top of your head. Mark the height with a piece of tape on a wall or stable, vertical surface. Record your drop height in Table 1.

10. Use the stopwatch to record how long it takes the hex nut to hit the metal pan in Table 1. Repeat two more times, and find the average.


Table 1: Washer Free Fall Data


Drop Height (m)

Time (s)





Auditory Observations of Equally Spaced Hex Nut Pattern:

Auditory Observations of Unequally Spaced Hex Nut Pattern:

Post-Lab Questions

1. Record your hypothesis from Step 1 here. Use evidence from your results to explain if your hypothesis was supported or not.

2. What was the difference between the noise patterns for equally spaced hex nuts compared to the unequally spaced hex nuts?

3. What caused the differing noise patterns?

4. Define the independent and dependent variables in the experiment.

© 2014 eScience Labs, LLC. All Rights Reserved


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