Physics C Mechanics
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Lab Activity: Projectiles

There are 5 parts to this lab. Th first 4 parts use the simulation shown below. The final part is a hands-on activity.    

For activities 1 through 4, use the controls in the simulation to fire the projectiles at various angles and with various initial speeds. Don't forget that the range is the distance traveled in the x-direction to get back down to the original firing height (denoted in the simulation by the horizontal line).
     You can use the measuring tape (located at the bottom of the simulation window) to make any measurements you need. Record all of your work in your lab notebook, including the calculations you make and results of the simulations.
Activity #1:
a. Calculate the range of a projectile with an initial speed of 16 m/s and a firing angle of 35°. After you determine the answer, adjust the parameters in the simulation and fire the cannon. Record your results and the results given by the simulation.
b. Change the mass of the projectile in the simulation. Do you think this change will have any effect on the range? Fire the cannon with a different mass. Does this change have any effect? Why or why not?
Activity 2:
a. Calculate the maximum height of a projectile fired at 8 m/s and a 50° firing angle. After you determine the answer, adjust the parameters in the simulation and fire the cannon. Record your results and the results given by the simulation.  
b. Examine the structure of the equations you used to determine by what factor the maximum height would change if you doubled the initial speed. Check your thinking by changing the initial speed on the simulation to 16 m/s. Record your results.
Activity 3:
Calculate the range for a projectile with an initial speed of 6 m/s shot at a 40° angle and the same projectile shot at a 50° angle. How do the results compare? Use the simulation to check your work. Record your findings. Try the same activity with angles of 20° and 70°. What can be said about firing a projectile at complementary angles?
Activity 4:
Don't miss out on firing various objects (especially the human cannonball) out of the cannon and keep adjusting until you hit the target! Click on the sound selection to hear the cannon fire.
Activity 5:
This is the hands-on part of the activity. Take any small round object (a baseball, for example) and take a video or series or images (use a cell phone) of its parabolic trajectory (from the side). Determine the intitial speed of the toss by analyzing the images and using measurements you make. You must include at least one image in the lab report and throughly explain your reasoning. Please use an image editor like lunapic ( to add graphics to your image such as your measurements and a visualization of the vector quantities that illustrate your work.


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