Laboratory Report: Relationship between Centripetal Force, Mass, Velocity, and Radius of Orbit

Categories: Physics

The purpose of this laboratory is to determine the relationship between centripetal force, mass, velocity, and the radius of orbit for a body undergoing centripetal acceleration.

Centripetal forces are essential for circular motion as they keep a revolving object in its circular path. On the other hand, centrifugal forces, the action/reaction pair to centripetal force, are center-fleeing and never act on revolving objects. The relationship between centripetal force (Fc), mass (m), velocity (v), and the radius of the circle (r) is defined by the equation:

The experiment involves a setup where a rubber stopper is attached to a plastic tube using a nylon cord.

A hanging mass is added to the other end of the nylon cord. The apparatus is swung in a circular motion, and various parameters such as the radius, mass, and stopper size are altered to observe their effects.


  • Plastic tube
  • Rubber stoppers of different sizes
  • Nylon cord
  • Weighing hanging masses
  • Stopwatch
  • Meter stick
  • Tape

The experimental procedure includes swinging the apparatus in a circular rotation, counting the number of rotations until it reaches a given number, typically 20.

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The variables of interest include the distance of the radius, the weight of the hanging mass, and the size of the rubber stopper. The time it takes for each variable is recorded to analyze the relationship between different aspects during centripetal acceleration.

The experimental data is recorded in a table, including the trial number, hanging mass, mass of the stopper, total time, and radius. The data is categorized into three sets: varying mass, varying radius, and varying stopper.

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Trial # Hanging Mass (g) Mass of Stopper (g) Total Time (s) Radius (m)
1 100 28.7 15.72 0.5
2 150 28.7 11.94 0.5


Calculations are performed to derive centripetal force, period, circumference, and velocity for each trial. The formulas used for the calculations are:
Centripetal Force (N)= 1000 Hanging Mass (kg)×9.81 ​
Period (s)= 20 Total Time (s) ​
Circumference (m)=2×3.14×Radius (m)

An example of each calculation is provided in the report.


Graphs are plotted to visually represent the relationship between variables. Three sets of graphs are created for trials 1-5, 6-10, and 11-15.

Potential sources of error are discussed, including the possibility of inaccurate counting of rotations, variations in stopwatches, and differences in apparatus setups. The impact of these errors on the data is acknowledged.

Questions and Conclusions:

  1. The forces acting on the apparatus, including tension, centripetal force, and gravity, are discussed in relation to the experiment setup.
  2. Newton's laws of motion are applied to explain the behavior of the rubber stopper during the experiment.
  3. Conclusions are drawn regarding the impact of centripetal force on velocity, the relationship between velocity and radius, and the effect of mass on velocity.
  4. Theoretical reasoning is provided to explain the observed trends in the data.

The laboratory report concludes with a summary of findings. It emphasizes the significance of the relationships observed and highlights the teamwork involved in conducting the experiment. The report concludes with a statement affirming a better understanding of the relationship between centripetal force, mass, velocity, and the radius of orbit for a body undergoing centripetal acceleration.

  1. Variations in Hanging Mass:
    • Conduct a detailed examination of how changes in the hanging mass affect the centripetal force, velocity, and radius. Explore whether there is a linear relationship between hanging mass and centripetal force.
    • Discuss the implications of varying mass on the stability and dynamics of the circular motion. Consider comparing the data to theoretical predictions and analyzing any deviations.
  2. Effect of Stopper Size:
    • Investigate the influence of the rubber stopper's size on the centripetal force. Determine if there is an optimal size for achieving maximum centripetal force.
    • Examine how different stopper sizes affect the overall setup's performance and stability during circular motion. Discuss the potential limitations and advantages of using various stopper sizes.
  3. Radius and Velocity Relationship:
    • Explore the relationship between radius and velocity. Analyze whether there is a direct or inverse correlation between these two variables.
    • Use graphical representations to illustrate trends in the data. Consider discussing how changes in the radius impact the circular motion's overall dynamics.

Further Research:

  1. Temperature and Friction:
    • Consider exploring the impact of temperature on the elasticity of the rubber stopper and its potential effect on the experimental outcomes.
    • Investigate the role of friction in the system and how it might influence the accuracy of the results. Discuss potential methods to minimize frictional effects.
  2. Comparative Analysis:
    • Compare the experimental results with theoretical predictions derived from the centripetal force equation. Discuss any discrepancies and potential sources of error.
    • Consider conducting similar experiments with different materials or setups to validate the observed relationships.
  3. Advanced Mathematical Models:
    • Introduce more advanced mathematical models, such as non-linear regression analysis, to fit the data and extract additional insights into the relationships between variables.

Revisit and expand upon the conclusions drawn in the initial report. Discuss how the findings contribute to the understanding of centripetal force and circular motion. Emphasize the broader implications of the experiment and how the results align with or challenge existing scientific knowledge.

By incorporating these additional elements into the laboratory report, it will become a more comprehensive and insightful exploration of centripetal force, mass, velocity, and radius in the context of circular motion.

Updated: Feb 21, 2024
Cite this page

Laboratory Report: Relationship between Centripetal Force, Mass, Velocity, and Radius of Orbit. (2024, Feb 21). Retrieved from

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