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Physics Practice IA Help

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To practice for our actual IA's next year, our teacher assigned us a lab for determining the spring constant 'k'. We have to do it following the actual format and criteria. I used the formula T = 2Ï€ sqrt (m/k) and rearranged it to find k. 

 

But when I sat down to write the lab, I got stuck on the research question and the hypothesis / prediction part. Normally the labs I did were focused on finding a relationship between two things but I never wrote a lab on finding a constant. Does anybody know how I would phrase my question and hypothesis / prediction?

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To practice for our actual IA's next year, our teacher assigned us a lab for determining the spring constant 'k'. We have to do it following the actual format and criteria. I used the formula T = 2Ï€ sqrt (m/k) and rearranged it to find k. 

 

But when I sat down to write the lab, I got stuck on the research question and the hypothesis / prediction part. Normally the labs I did were focused on finding a relationship between two things but I never wrote a lab on finding a constant. Does anybody know how I would phrase my question and hypothesis / prediction?

 

Personally, I think you are over-complicating the lab by using the formula T = 2Ï€ sqrt(m/k) to calculate the spring constant. This is because if you square both sides of the equation, you'll get T^2 = (4Ï€^2/k) * m. Therefore, what you need to do is to graph the function of T^2 with respect to 'm' (in other words, in order to graph this function, you'll need to find the period squared for each mass that you choose). This function will most probably be a linear function, where the slope of the graph can then be used to calculate the spring constant. However, this is way too complicated.

 

Another much simpler idea is to use the formula F = kx (where F is the force, & x is the distance stretch by the spring). So all you need to do is to attach a typical spring-force-meter to the spring, and then attach this force meter to a mass. Measure the force and how much the spring is stretched. then graph the force with respect to the distance stretch! and the slope will be the spring constant. This is much simpler.

 

Regarding your main question about the hypothesis, you don't need one!!! This is because the main purpose of your lab is to use some kind of method to measure something. Hence it just doesn't make sense if you have a hypothesis/prediction. So you can basically ignore it :)

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