the Physics Education Technology Project
This is a context-rich activity developed specifically to accompany the PhET simulation Projectile Motion. Students view NASA's "Feather Drop" video as a context for exploring the effects of air resistance (or lack of it). Afterward, they use the simulation to explore projectile motion with and without air resistance. The lesson plan provides explicit instructions for using the simulation and suggestions for data recording. The purpose of the lesson is for students to think deeply about how gravity and air resistance affect the motion of a projectile.
See Related Materials for a link to the Projectile Motion simulation, which must be running to complete this activity.
Editor's Note:This activity was developed for high school, but can also be adapted for Grades 7-8.
Metadata instance created
September 14, 2012
by Caroline Hall
August 18, 2016
by Lyle Barbato
Last Update when Cataloged:
January 5, 2009
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
4. The Physical Setting
6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
11. Common Themes
6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.
9-12: 11B/H1a. A mathematical model uses rules and relationships to describe and predict objects and events in the real world.
9-12: 11B/H3. The usefulness of a model can be tested by comparing its predictions to actual observations in the real world. But a close match does not necessarily mean that other models would not work equally well or better.
Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments
Standards for Mathematical Practice (K-12)
MP.1 Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
Common Core State Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6—12
Text Types and Purposes (6-12)
1. Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content. (WHST.6-8.1)
Production and Distribution of Writing (6-12)
WHST.6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Reeves, S. (2009, January 5). PhET Teacher Activities: Projectile Motion-Gravity & Air Resistance. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from Physics Education Technology Project: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/2836
%0 Electronic Source %A Reeves, Steve %D January 5, 2009 %T PhET Teacher Activities: Projectile Motion-Gravity & Air Resistance %I Physics Education Technology Project %V 2017 %N 25 April 2017 %8 January 5, 2009 %9 application/ms-word %U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/2836
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