Mass, Friction and Distance
Name: Nancy P.
Date: Thursday, April 25, 2002
I have a fifth grade student doing a project on the
relationship of the weight of an object and how far it travels. She is
putting different amounts of weight on a car, sending it down a ramp and
measuring the distance it travels. Can you give her any information to
help her understand the results she gets.
The exact answer depends on details of the construction. From this
distance I can only give the general physics answer. If the friction
is proportional to the normal force (constant coefficient of friction),
the car will travel the same distance regardless of the weight added
to the car. This is because the potential energy of the car when at
the top of the ramp is proportional to the mass of the car and the
frictional force is also proportional to the mass of the car since the
normal force is proportional.
Best, Dick Plano...
Click here to return to the Physics Archives
Update: June 2012