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Physics Honors/AP 1 and 2

LAB: Investigating Inclined Plane Forces

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Physics Lab

Lab: Inclined Plane

Goal: To determine the magnitude of forces on a block on an inclined plane.

Materials and Equipment

Inclined Plane Setup


  1. Record your hypothesis: how will acceleration depend on the angle of the sliding surface?
  2. Weigh your slide. If you still have your equal arm scale, you can use that. If necessary, just get the weight of your slide in equivalent standard weights (e.g., 95 nickels). If you use a cup to hold your weights, you should weigh it also and include its weight along with your standard weight for total weights below.
  3. Fasten the pulley or tubing to your surface edge.
  4. Fasten the string to your slide
  5. Run the string over the edge of the tubing so that it hangs down; fasten your cup or other weight holder to the end.
  6. Start adding weights to the end of the string.
  7. Record the total amount of weight required for your slide to start moving.
  8. Time the drop if you can.
  9. Repeat the above procedure for each slide with the slide surface inclined at 2-5 degree intervals for high slope (a low slope may allow your mass to accelerate too quickly to measure differences in drop rates).
  10. Make a table which shows the mass of the slide, he weight required to overcome static friction, the angle of the incline, and the drop time.
  11. Estimate errors for each of your measurements.

Data Handling

Data Reduction

Display your information appropriately in table format. Use data reduction techniques such as those outlined in the Data Handling section of the Falling Bodies lab to analyze your data.

Determine the dependence of acceleraton on the angle of inclination. Is this a linear function? A non-linear function? How can you show this?

Lab Report requirements

Your report should include:

  1. A description of your equipment and procedure, in enough detail that a reasonably intelligent fellow student could repeat your experiment.
  2. Your data, arranged in tables or other format so that it is easy to read and relate values.
  3. Your error estimates for your measurments.
  4. Your conclusions.
  5. A description of your equipment and procedures which is sufficiently detailed that I could repeat your experiment myself to check your results.
  6. Your raw data and calculated data, with explanations of your asusmptions and calculations.
  7. Your conclusions about acceleration: is it constant?