Required Practical 19: Acceleration

About this practical...

You will, by now, know about Newton?s laws of motion. Here you get to see them in action and draw your own conclusion about the relationships between mass, force and acceleration. When you are calculating the results, make sure that you observe everything you can including how the masses are applying the force, the friction of the car?s tyres/wheels and even if the toy cars have the same amount of drag at the same speed.


1. Collect the equipment to setup the apparatus as shown in the diagram

2. Mark the table every 20cm for the final 1m from the edge of the bench

3. Add 10g mass to the end of the string (approximate the 10g to 0.1N)

4. Release the masses and start a stop clock at the same time

5. Record the time taken to reach every marker (20cm, 40cm, 60cm, 80cm and 100cm). You may have to repeat this in order for your team to catch all of these

6. Repeat the experiment and add 10g each time until you have 100g (approximate 100g to 1N)

Results - you now need to work out the average velocity of your car for each 20 cm. This is worked out as distance (0.2 M)/time taken (time difference between markers in seconds).

You can now work out the accelerations. The changes in velocities / time taken

Now compare the relationship between acceleration and force applied.

Extension - you can further investigate F=ma by keeping the force on the car the same and varying the mass of the car. Keep the number of masses pulling the car constant and add masses to the roof of the car and measure its effect

Safety & Managing Risks

Usual lab rules must be followed: Bags and stools tucked away and notify the teacher of any breakages immediately. Take care with the masses, do not stand under in case masses fall on your toes. For more detailed information, please consult CLEAPSS.

Technician notes:

Selection of toy cars

Fine string

Slotted masses (10g intervals to 100g)


This page was updated on: 8th January 2022