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Experiment 1: Errors, Uncertainties and Measurements

Laboratory Report

Jyelo Dela Cruz, Bruce Devela, Jyle Diño, Franc Dy, Micole Gabriel

Department of Math and Physics

Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Santo Tomas
España, Manila Philippines

Abstract precision is the consistency in obtaining the

measured value.
The experiment involved taking the
measurement of a spherical object - in the The objectives of these experiment is
group’s case, a glass marble - in a span of to show how errors and uncertainties affect
ten (10) trials. This was accomplished any experiment, to introduce the usage of
through the use of three (3) different average deviation, to establish the mean of
measuring instruments: a ruler, a vernier the set of values and its average deviation,
caliper, and a micrometer caliper. The and to educate students with the following
experimental value of density was then instruments and their accuracy in measuring:
compared to the accepted value, thus vernier caliper, micrometer caliper, and the
producing a percent error in calculations. foot rule. Moreover, the experiment
The measurement for the vernier caliper enhances the ability to calculate for the
revealed the most accurate result with a density of an object from its mass and
0.8% percent error. volume.

1. Introduction 2. Theory

Measuring the base unit of an object Significant figures or significant

is crucial in determining its derived unit. digits are essential in scientific and
Aspects such as accuracy and precision mathematical calculations and
greatly affects measuring which will then measurements. It deals with the precision
lead to errors and uncertainties. Errors and and accuracy of numbers. Using significant
uncertainties are inevitable. However, figures in estimating the uncertainty of the
various methods and techniques are final result is important. There are rules in
established to minimise errors and more determining the significance of a digit. First,
sophisticated and accurate instruments are all numbers from 9 are significant and are
made to reduce the uncertainty in counted. Second, zeroes between numbers
measuring. are significant. Third, zeroes that are placed
after the significant numbers are not
The ​Absolute Uncertainty ​or significant. However, trailing zeroes after a
Absolute Error is the range where the decimal point are counted as significant.
actual value will lie on. Accuracy and
precision will both affect the experiment’s All measurements have some degree
result. ​Accuracy is how close the measured of uncertainty. In reporting an experimental
value is to the true and actual value while value along with its uncertainty allows
sum of observed values
people to judge the quality of the Mean​ = no. of observations
experiment, as well as facilitates meaningful
comparisons with other similar values or a Average deviation (a.d.) tells how
theoretical prediction. In making much the individual measurements vary
measurement, we assume that some exact or from the mean.
true value is present based on ow we define |x1 −x| + |x2 −x| . . . |xN −x|
what is being measured. However, we obtain a.d. = N
slightly different results when making
measurements by different methods or using Diameter error percentage is used to
the same methods. Thus, true value can be check how far the measured diameter is
shown as: from the true value.
Measurement A.D.
(measured value ± standard uncertainty) % error = x × 100

A precision measuring device, like Volume of the sphere is the amount

micrometer, can be used to obtain very fine of space that the marble occupies. The
measurements. It as available metric and formula of the sphere is derived from the
imperial versions. Micrometers measure in formula of pyramid and the surface area of
0.01 increments and imperial versions in the sphere. It is ⅓ times the radius of the
0.001 inches. This measuring instrument as sphere times the surface area of the sphere.
two scales: a primary scale that can be found
on the barrel and a secondary scale that can V = 43 πr3
be found on the thimble. The combination of
the values taken from the two scales makes Experimental value of density is the
the total measurement. calculated to know how compacted the
Vernier calipers is also used to marble is with matter.
precisely measure objects. It is very useful
in measuring the diameter of round objects p= V
because the measuring jaws can be secured
on either side of the circumference. The Percentage error is the useful for
scale is graduated in mm or tents of an inch. determining the precision of the
The reading of this device is the smallest calculations. It is the relationship between
distance the caliper can measure. the Vernier the experimental value and the actual value
caliper measure in either 0.02mm or or the expected value. A percentage closer to
0.05mm, while the imperial version is in zero gives a good calculation which means
0.001in. that the measured values are closer to the
A better look of the uncertainty true value.
through repeating the measurement several |accepted value − experimental value|
times and examining the variations among % error = accepted value × 100
the measured values. Average or mean is
generally the best estimate of the true value.
3. Methodology of the diameter of the sphere. After
measuring the sphere, the group then
The group was provided three calculated the mean diameter ( x ) by adding
measuring devices, which are the foot rule, all the ten independent diameters and
vernier caliper, and micrometer caliper, to dividing it to the number (​n)​ of observations.
measure the diameter of the sphere
provided, which is a marble. The foot rule Σ independent diameters
x= n
was used for a rigid measurement. The
vernier caliper was used for a precise The group then calculated the
measurement, and the micrometer caliper deviation (​d)​ of each of the independent
was used to accurately measure thickness. diameter to the mean diameter.

d = |independent diameter − x |

Then, the group calculated for the

average deviation (​a.d.)​ , which is the the
sum of the deviations divided by the number
(​n​) of observations.
Image 1: Foot ruler Σd
a.d. = n

The average deviation (​A.D.​) of the

mean diameter is then calculated.

A.D. = √n

Image 2: Vernier caliper. The % error of the diameter was then

calculated by considering the average
deviation (​A.D.) as the error and the mean
diameter ( x ) as the standard value.

% error = x × 100

The volume (​V)​ of the sphere is then

measured using radius (​r​) as the mean
Image 3: Micrometer caliper. mean diameter (x)
M ean radius (r) = 2
The group first tried to see if the
calipers that would be used will produce any
errors. Then, the least count of the foot rule, V = 43 πr3
vernier caliper, and micrometer caliper were
determined. Afterwards, the foot rule was The mass (​m)​ of the sphere was then
used to make ten independent measurements measured using an electronic gram balance.
After, the density (​p)​ of the sphere was Average deviation 0.0215
obtained. of the mean (A.D.)
% error of 1.5%
p= V
Volume (cm3) 1.67cm3
To calculate the % error of the Mass (g) 5.05g
density of the sphere, the instructor was first Experimental 2.99g/cm3
asked for the accepted value of the density Value of density
of the sphere. (g/cm3)
Accepted value of 2.57g/cm3
|accepted value − experimental value| density (g/cm3)
% error = accepted value × 100
% .error for 16.3%
All measurements, procedures, and density
calculations were then repeated using the
vernier caliper and micrometer caliper. Table 2. Diameter of the sphere in
centimeters using vernier calipers​​.
4. Results and Discussion
Trial Vernier Caliper
Tables 1, 2, and 3 show the diameter 1 1.580cm
of the sphere used during the experiment 2 1.535cm
while utilising the following instruments: a 3 1.565cm
foot rule, vernier calipers, and a micrometer 4 1.570cm
caliper. Each instrument was allotted ten 5 1.530cm
(10) trials. 6 1.540cm
7 1.550cm
Table 1. Diameter of the sphere in 8 1.540cm
centimeters using a foot rule​​. 9 1.565cm
10 1.550cm
Trial Foot Rule Mean diameter 1.550cm
1 1.5cm Average deviation 0.0135
2 1.5cm (a.d)
3 1.4cm Average deviation 0.0427
4 1.3cm of the mean (A.D.)
5 1.4cm % error of 0.1%
6 1.5cm diameter
7 1.5cm Volume (cm3) 1.95cm3
8 1.4cm Mass (g) 5.05g
9 1.6cm Experimental 2.59g/cm3
10 1.5cm Value of density
Mean diameter 1.46cm (g/cm3)
Average deviation 0.008 Accepted value of 2.57g/cm3
(a.d.) density (g/cm3)
% error for density 0.8%
Table 3. Diameter of the sphere in
centimeters using a micrometer caliper Research suggests that, among three
instruments, the micrometer caliper would
Trial Micrometer prove the most accurate while vernier the
Caliper most precise. However, the results did not
1 1.6050cm present these ideas. The group believes that
2 1.6000cm this was caused by systematic and random
3 1.6065cm errors, specifically in the form of
4 1.5420cm uncalibrated instruments and inaccurate
5 1.5440cm readings due to parallax and in the
6 1.5440cm measuring of the diameter of the spherical
7 1.6015cm ball.
8 1.5830cm
5. Conclusion
9 1.5500cm
10 1.6450cm The experiment was accomplished
Mean diameter 1.5800cm by measuring the diameter of a glass marble
Average deviation 0.0301 within ten (10) trials to produce an
(a.d.) experimental value of density. In
Average deviation 0.010 comparison to a ruler and a micrometer
of the mean (A.D.) caliper, the vernier caliper produced the
% error of 0.006% most accurate results with a percent error for
diameter density of 0.8%. The objectives were
Volume (cm3) 2.06cm3 properly met as each student learned how to
Mass (g) 5.05g make use of the different equipment
Experimental 2.45g/cm3 required in the experiment and to later solve
Value of density for the values such as the mean, average
(g/cm3) deviation, average deviation of the mean,
Accepted value of 2.57g/cm3 and density. Understanding all these
density (g/cm3) concepts helped the group realize how error
is highly related to the accuracy of
% error for density 4.7% determining an object’s measurements. The
micrometer caliper should have shown a
The experiment allowed the group to more accurate percent error but due to a a
determine the accuracy and precision of possible variety of errors, its accuracy was
each measuring apparatus. With an average only second to the vernier caliper.
deviation of the mean (A.D.) of 0.0215, the
ruler was considered the most precise 6. Applications
instrument, followed by the micrometer a. Which among the three measuring
caliper at 0.0301 and the vernier caliper at devices give you the least % error?
0.0427. In terms of accuracy, the vernier Is the accuracy of a measurement
caliper proved to be the most accurate with affected by the least count of the
only a 0.8% percent error for density. The measuring device?
micrometer caliper followed at 4.7% and the
ruler at 16.3%.
The vernier caliper showed the least diameter of the spherical ball.
percent error with a value of 0.8%. The
micrometer caliper, which has a least count
of 0.0001 cm, is considered more accurate c. Sketch
than the vernier caliper with a least count of i. A vernier caliper that reads
0.01 cm.; therefore, the accuracy of 3.48cm
measurement is indeed affected by the least
count of the measuring device in an inverse

b. What do you mean by error? What

are the types of errors? What are the
errors you encountered in the

An error, according to the

City Collegiate, is defined as the
difference between the measured
value and the actual value. There are ii. A micrometer caliper that
three (3) types of errors: Systematic reads 7.05mm
Errors, Random Errors, and
Systematic Errors are errors
that can be eliminated. For instance,
reading measurements in the correct
angle to avoid parallax
measurements. Random Errors are
errors that may not have an
identifiable source such as
unpredictable spikes in voltage or d. A student weighed himself using a
temperature in an experiments. bathroom scale calibrated in
Blunders are mistakes made by a kilograms. He reported his weight in
person in recording or in calculating. pounds. What is the percentage error
This type of error is very in his reported weight if he uses this
distinguishable and is not included in conversion: 1 kg = 2.2 pounds? The
any analysis of data. standard kilogram is equal to 2.2046
In this experiment, we faced pounds.
the former two (2) types of errors, Suppose the student weighs
Systematic Errors and Random 70 kilograms. With the conversion of
errors. The uncalibrated instruments 1 kilogram is equal to 2.2 pounds, he
and inaccurate readings due to would then weigh 154 pounds. On
parallax were a cause of a systematic the other hand, with the standard
error while the Random Errors were kilogram conversion of 1 kilogram is
encountered in measuring the equal to 2.2046 pounds, he weighs
154.32 pounds. In this calculation, and more precise. The error of the
the percent error is 0.20865. experiment will also be lesser.
| accepted value − experimental value |
%e = accepted value
x100 f. Give other parts of the body that are
being used for measurement even
%e = |154.322 − 154 |
x 100 today. What are some properties to
be a standard of measurement?
%e = 0.20865 % ≈ 0.21%
Some of the parts of the body which
e. In an experiment on determination of
are currently being used for measurement
mass of a sample, your group
are the following:
consisting of 5 students obtained the
following results: 14.34g, 14.32g,
14.33g, 14.30g, and 14.23g. Find the
From Latin cubitum, "the elbow." A cubit
mean, a.d. and A.D. Suppose that
was a measurement based on the forearm
your group is required to make only
from elbow to fingertip. The exact length
four determinations for the mass of
varied according to whose arm was being
the sample. If you are the leader of
used and could be from 18-22 inches.
the group, which data will you omit?
Recalculate the mean, a.d. and A.D.
without this data. Which results will
In Latin, digitus could mean either "finger"
you prefer?
or "toe". The same is true of digit in modern
English. People use the digits of their hands
to count to ten.

Old English faethm was "the length of the
outstretched arm,"about six feet."

Originally, a "hand" was a measurement of
The data that I would omit is the three inches, but now it is four inches. The
14.23g because it is the farthest among the measurement is still used to reckon the
collected data. heights of horses.

This is an indeterminate quantity of some
dry measure, such as grain, that can be held
in the cupped hand. A Greek word for
"handful" is the origin of the Greek coin
called a drachma.

I would prefer the second result

because the collected data are closer to each
In old English, a span was "the distance .htm
between the thumb and little finger of an
extended hand," roughly nine inches. [3] Purdue University College of Science.
(n.d.). ​Significant Figures. Retrieved from
- The basis of the measurement now picreview/bp/ch1/sigfigs.html
called an inch. We don't measure
things in "thumbs," anymore, but we [4] Maddox, M. (n.d.). ​Body Parts as Tools
do talk about thumbnail sketches and of Measurement. ​ etrieved
R from
thumbnails in the sense of "small
images." s-as-tools-of-measurement/
- The expression rule of thumb
originated from carpenters who used [5] ​National Center for Chronic Disease
their thumbs to take rough Prevention and Health Promotion | Division
measurements. of Population Health. (2016). ​Measurement
Properties: Validity, Reliability, and
The properties to be a standard of Responsiveness. Retrieved from
measurement are the following:
- Validity: degree to which an
instrument measures what it is
supposed to measure
- Reliability: degree to which an
instrument can produce consistent
results, and consistent results on
different occasions, when there is no
evidence of change
- Responsiveness: ability to detect
change over time

7. References
[1] (n.d.). ​Accuracy,
Precision of Instruments and Errors in
Measurements. ​Retrieved from

[2] (2018). ​Types Of

Error-Systematic Error-Random
Error-Empirical Formula-Molecular
Formula-Limiting Reactant.​ [online]
Retrieved from