Reflection: Real World Applications Projectile Prediction! - Section 3: Students Prepare Their Predictions


After you teach high school physics for a few weeks, it is clear that most students hate to solve equations without numbers. They want to plug in numbers as soon as possible and this is understandable as numbers are more concrete than a letter that could be anything. However, there is value in having students derive equations without putting in the numbers right away. It is good mathematical practice and it also gives allows us to understand the relationship between variables after the derivation is done (linear, inverse, squared, etc). I tell my students this is more valuable than coming up with a single number one time. We want to know how nature operates, that if we change x, what will happen to y!

As can be seen on the first student solutions, they still struggle with this concept of formula derivation. It takes practice and perseverance and you can see that this group had to make several changes. But they can do it. The second sample shows a very neat and elegant solution. I am sure to share such a solution with the rest of the class.

In the future, I will add a challenge where students can take advantage of their derived formula. Perhaps imagine a situation where the launch velocity was changed and they must redo their calculations in 30 seconds to reposition their catch point.

  Real World Applications: Launcher reflection
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Projectile Prediction!

Unit 2: Forces in Two Dimensions
Lesson 4 of 16

Objective: Given a projectile launched with a known starting velocity and angle, students will predict the horizontal position of a bucket to catch it.

Big Idea: For a projectile where air resistance can be ignored, its horizontal velocity is constant and its vertical velocity changes at 9.81 m/s^2

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Forces and Newton's Laws, Science, Physical Science, physics, kinematics, Projectile Motion, mathematical modeling, components, Forces
  45 minutes
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