A Formula 1 Margarine Tub

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Physics Investigation – A Formula 1 Margarine Tub


I am going to investigate how the mass of a margarine tub affects the distance it can travel.

The following Factors will affect the distance the tub can travel:

·Surface area of the tub
·Air Resistance
·Force applied to propel tub
·Length of elastic bands used to propel tub
·Surface on which tub will travel


I predict that as the mass of the tub increases, the distance the tub can travel will decrease. This is because of friction. Friction is the force that resists the relative motion or tendency to such motion of two bodies in contact. Each time the mass of the tub is increased the pressure between the two contact points (the bottom of the tub and the floor) increases and thus the friction force acting in the opposite direction of the forward forcer of the tub overbalances it. This causes the tub to slow down and stop at a shorter distance each time its mass is increased, because the friction force becomes increasingly greater than the forward force of the tub.

Preliminary Work

I carried out a preliminary work to gain enough evidence to support my prediction and find out what was the best apparatus, range of weights and surface to use in my experiment.

Apparatus Available:

·Elastic bands
·100 cm ruler
·10 –100g weights

I stretched an elastic band between two stool legs (40 cm apart) and pulled it back from the stool legs 30 cm, using a ruler to measure; thus using Elastic Potential Energy as the force to propel the tub along the floor - my chosen surface. I celotaped the weights to the bottom of the tub to prevent them falling out and/or overturning it in motion, placed the tub in line with the stool legs and let go of the elastic bands. The weights I used are 10, 30, 50, 70 and 90g weights. I measured the distance the tub travelled along the floor from the stool legs with a 100cm ruler.

Weight put in tub (g)Distance...
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