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Homework Help: Would you say this is proper scientific inquiry?

  1. Nov 25, 2012 #1
    I have a lab, based on a skate park simulation, and I need to come up with a question.

    I came up with this: How does the mass of the skater affect the power of the skater?

    Would it be proper to do tests with no friction, low friction, and high friction and then compare the results with each other, or should I rephrase the question first?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 26, 2012 #2
    So do you intend keeping the force that he excerts on the surface constant and investigate how the power changes when the mass of the skater is altered? The force is applied only momentarily during the session at some stages.
  4. Nov 26, 2012 #3
    Keep in mind, this is only basic physics (first year, high school physics course).

    The mass will be the independent variable. Different masses will be used to find the power on two different ramps. Each test combination will be done on the same ramps with and without friction, and the results will be compared.
  5. Nov 27, 2012 #4
    I think that your statement needs a bit of careful rewording/extra consideration. According to my understanding the power will stay the same, he will just reach a lower height with friction. The same amount of work is still done, but a portion of it is going into overcoming friction. I am getting the impression that is sort of a roller coaster situation. You go in at a certain speed at the bottom and see how high you can get?
  6. Nov 27, 2012 #5


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    You need to define what you mean by "power" first.

    If the simulation is of someone in a half pipe and you just want to know if mass effects how high they will go up the other side then what you propose is reasonable.

    Have you considered how a skater can ever get to the top of the other side let alone higher? Clearly the skater must be adding energy to the system. Can the simulator account for that? If so perhaps find out how much energy a skater of average mass must add in order to get to the top when there is friction involved. Then see what happens if heavier and lighter skaters also add that much energy.
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