Helicopter Experiment

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Karan Madan IB Physics SL Sam Edgecombe 2012.04.22


Paper Helicopter Experiment
Introduction: The paper helicopter experiment involves designing a paper helicopter and by changing a certain variable acquire data for a selected variable. The essential part in this practical is to plan the experiment in detail in order to obtain substantial data. Firstly we have to identify our controlled variables which will be kept constant throughout the experiment. By carrying out this practical it is ideal that students become familiar with the fundamental concepts of experimental planning, design and analysis. Above all, the scientific method should become acquainted with by the students. Research question: How does the time taken for a paper helicopter, dropped from a specific height above the ground, aimed to reach the ground, depend upon a change in mass? In other words, for simplification, how does a change in mass of a paper helicopter affect the time taken for the helicopter to reach ground level from a certain height? Apparatus:        Stopwatch Thick card paper (card stock) Paper clips Scissors Pen Tape Measuring tape (metric ruler)

Variables: Independent variable: The independent variable, the thing I will change throughout the experiment, will be the mass of the helicopter. This will be done by adding paper clips to the tail of the helicopter. By adding mass the dependent variable will be affected. The mass of each paperclip should be measured on a scale, and then be recorded. 7 different masses, of the helicopter of course, should be used. This will produce a large range of data which will be good when trying to make some kind of conclusion. So essentially mass is added onto the helicopter as the number of paperclips increase. Controlled variable(s): These are the elements that I have chosen to keep constant throughout the experiment:  Distance (height) from which the helicopter is dropped

The same distance from which the helicopter is dropped, in relation to the ground, should be maintained the same for each trial performed, throughout the experiment. A minimum height for release of the helicopter is two meters above ground level. The height of release should be recorded with the aid of a measuring tape.

Karan Madan IB Physics SL Sam Edgecombe 2012.04.22  Paper helicopter


The same helicopter should be used throughout the experiment. It is necessary to be consistent with this variable since a change in helicopter will produce inconsistent results. If, however, the helicopter breaks down and crashes with no hope of being restored to its full potential, an identical replica should be made using the same type of paper with the exact same dimensions. Therefore, keep spare papers in the case where this terrible event occurs.  Paperclips

The same type of paperclips should be used at all times during the experiment. This will produce a linear increase in mass of the helicopter, and also create good data which conclusions can be drawn from.  Indoors

The experiment should be conducted indoors where there is no wind. This will lead to more accurate results. If done outdoors, wind and several other crucial factors have to be included. It is highly recommended to perform this experiment indoors.  Angle of the rotor blades (helicopter wings)

The angle of the helicopter wings should be maintained the same throughout the experiment. This is done by taping a part of the helicopter wing to the helicopter body (see picture on next page). This will help to keep the same angle throughout, and thus result in that the helicopter will travel with the same circular rotation. Dependent variable: The variable that will be measured is the time taken for the paper helicopter to reach ground level (the floor). This will be done by strictly applying the stated controlled variables. As the helicopter is dropped from a specific height, a person should start the stopwatch, and as soon as it...
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