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Date___________ _________________________________

ARCHIMEDES PRINCIPLE EXPERIMENT

Short Description:

Archimedes' principle states that an object submerged in a fluid is buoyed by a force that is equal to the

weight of the displaced fluid. In this lab, you are to do two experiments involving Archimedes principle

involving 1) a metal block submerged in water and 2) a helium-filled balloon.

Equipment: Vertical long rod, clamp, force sensor, metal block+string, plastic beaker, scale

plastic cup, balloon, small weight, He tank (machine shop), water.

PART 1: Density of Aluminum (or copper)

Preliminary questions

1. A beaker partly filled with water sits on a balance. Now a piece of aluminum is lowered into the water

and held by a string so that it does not touch the bottom of the beaker. No water overflows. Does the

weight registered by the scale go up, go down, or stay the same?

2. If the metal in question 1 is suspended by a string from a spring scale or force sensor as in figure (b),

its apparent weight W

app

= T

2

will be (W-F

B

), where W is the true weight of the metal, and F

B

is the

buoyant force acting on it when it is completely submerged. From Archimedes Principle, show that the

ratio of the metals density to that of water is given by

B w

m

F

W

(1)

Show your proof in the space below:

Procedure A:

Set up DataStudio with the force sensor and display a graph of force vs. time. Zero the force reading by

pressing the tare button on the side. Next, hang the metal (either aluminum or copper) from the force

sensor and record the weight of the metal for a few seconds. Then place the metal into the cup of water

until its submerged. (Place the cup on the table and adjust the height of the force sensor so the block

doesnt touch the bottom of the beaker). Stop the measurement, and find the average reading in air and

in the water:

Weight

Air

_____________ Weight

Water

_____________

What is the physical meaning of the difference of these two readings?

Numerical value of the difference: ________

Now find the density of the metal from knowledge of its weight and buoyant force, using equation (1) in

preliminary question 2.

How does your measured density compare with the accepted value?

Procedure B:

Test your prediction (preliminary question 1). Use the beaker with water, the scale and the metal block,

no force sensor. Measure the weight of the baker (with water) using the scale. Next, holding with your

hand the string, suspend the metal block into the beaker sitting on a balance. Does the weight of the

beaker change when the metal is submerged?

W

Beaker _____________

W

(Beaker+Block) ______________

(with the metal inside)

By how much? Express the difference in newtons.

W

(Beaker+Block)

- W

Beaker

________

Which force does this difference represent?

How does this number compare with the results from Procedure A?

Question: Would your result be different if you lowered a piece of copper, of the same volume, instead

of aluminum into the water? Explain.

PART II: Lifting capacity of a helium-filled balloon

The lifting capacity of a helium-filled balloon is given by the difference in its buoyant force due to the air

and the weight of the helium in the balloon. If an object is suspended by a string from the balloon floating

in air at a constant height, then the lifting capacity is:

B He b s o

F W m g m g m g (2)

where g V F

b Air B

, g V W

b He He

, m

b

= balloon mass, m

o

= hanging object mass and m

s

= string

mass (you can neglect it). Hang a small mass from the balloon such that it floats in air without rising or

falling. You can use paperclips or whatever object you prefer. After equilibrium is reached, remove the

hanging mass and measure it with the scale. Record m

o

and m

b

as well by weighing a similar uninflated

balloon (or ask to the TA for the weight of the balloon)

m

o_________________

m

b __________________

Calculate the net weight in newtons, the RHS of equation (2): ______________

Estimate the volume of the balloon using a ruler and assuming the balloon is a sphere.

V

b

= ______

The density of helium is 0.179 kg/m

3

and the density of air is 1.29 kg/m

3

. Now calculate the lifting

capacity (in newtons), the LHS of equation (2): ___________

How does the calculated lifting capacity compare with the net weight of the load?

Question: How many helium filled balloons like the one you used in this lab would be required to lift

you into the air?

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