1C20.30 - Inclined Air Track - Timed Intervals

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Inclined Air Track - Timed Intervals
Acceleration Due to Gravity
Area of Study:
Air track, 1-3" blocks, laptop computer, computer interface, photo gates, protractor, meter stick.

Put the block under one end of the air track and measure the angle if desired.  Set the photo gates and the desired position and if needed carefully measure the distance between the gates.  Release the car with one of the 10cm flags on it and measure the time through the two gates.

One of the 2.5 inch blocks placed under the end should give an angle of about 1.8 degrees.  Two of those blocks will give about 3.6 degrees.

  • Witchayaporn Namchanthra, Chokchai Puttharugsa, "LED Gates for Measuring Kinematic Parameters Using the Ambient Light Sensor of a Smartphone", TPT, Vol. 59, #4, April 2021, p. 298.
  • Walter Hellman, "Galilean Tracks in the Physics Lab", TPT, Vol. 49, #8, Nov. 2011, p. 474.
  • David Wheeler, "Significant Errors", TPT, Vol. 39, #6, Sept. 2001, p. 324.
  • D.D. Venable, A.P. Batra, and T. Hubsch, "Modifying the Inclined Plane Experiment", TPT, Vol. 39, #4, Apr. 2001, p. 215.
  • David Wheeler, "An Error-Free Method", TPT, Vol. 38, #1, Jan. 2000, p. 4.
  • Roger F. Larson, "Measuring the Coefficient of Friction of a Low-Friction Cart", TPT, Vol. 36, #8, Nov. 1998, p. 464.
  • Robert G. Mentzer, "Measuring the Acceleration Due to Gravity: An experiment Galileo Could Have Run", TPT, Vol. 22, #9, Dec. 1984, p. 580.
  • Robert Kern Curtis, "More on Measuring g", TPT, Vol. 17, #1, Jan. 1979, p. 10.
  • Bruce Bernero, "Another Experiment to Measure g", TPT, Vol. 16, #8, Nov. 1978, p. 558.
  • Paul D. Sherman, "Galileo and the Inclined Plane Controversy", TPT, Vol. 12, #6, Sept. 1974, p. 343.
  • E. W. Guptill, G. Stroink, R. H. March, "A Lecture Demonstration of Linear Motion Using the Airtrack", AJP, Vol. 45, #10, Oct. 1977, p. 1005.
  • Jodi and Roy McCullough, "Acceleration with a Stringracer", The Role of Toys in Teaching Physics", 2000, p. 3.4.
  • Robert Ehrlich, "A.3. Rolling Balls Down an Inclined Ruler", Turning the World Inside Out, p. 6.
  • Robert P. Crease, "The Alpha Experiment: Galileo and the Inclined Plane", The Prism & The Pendulum, Ch. 3, p. 42.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.