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Name: Nancy P.
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Thursday, April 25, 2002

I have a fifth grade student doing a project on the relationship of the weight of an object and how far it travels. She is putting different amounts of weight on a car, sending it down a ramp and measuring the distance it travels. Can you give her any information to help her understand the results she gets.

The exact answer depends on details of the construction. From this distance I can only give the general physics answer. If the friction is proportional to the normal force (constant coefficient of friction), the car will travel the same distance regardless of the weight added to the car. This is because the potential energy of the car when at the top of the ramp is proportional to the mass of the car and the frictional force is also proportional to the mass of the car since the normal force is proportional.

Best, Dick Plano...

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