Watch out for that Cliff

Katelin Corbett

New Explorations into Science Technology and Math

Summer Research Program for Science Teachers/FASTER

August 2012


Subject: Regents Physics

Grade level: 9-12

Time Frame: 90 minutes

Objective: Predict the landing spot of a projectile that is launched horizontally from an elevated surface using vectors and kinematics equations.

Motivation: Students should be able to calculate the distance an object will land based on the objects initial velocity in the horizontal direction and the height from which it falls.


         Rolling Cars or Marbles

         Tracks for the marbles or cars to fall down

         Meter stick



         Introduction worksheet


Do now: Question of the day: Calculate the time of flight of an object dropped from 9 meters. 

Main activity:

Students will be given the inquiry problem of a car falling off an unexpected cliff.  At the bottom of the cliff is a large pond that can potentially break the cars fall.  The students are to predict exactly where the pond should be in order to facilitate a safe landing.  Students may roll the ball down the incline.  Change the height of the incline but may not allow the marble or car to fall until it is tested.  Students should take into account outside forces when placing the target during the final test.  Students will have two trials but will not be able to move the target once it is placed.

(See attached worksheet)


Homework: Final lab report will be presented first thing tomorrow.  Lab report should include data tables, associated graphs and a conclusion



Standard 1

M1.1- Use algebraic and geometric representations to describe and compare data.

M2.1- Interpret graphs to determine the mathematical relationship between the variables.

S2.2- Devise ways of making observations to test proposed explanations

S3.1- Use various means of representing and organizing observations.

Standard 7

Key idea 2: Collect, analyze, interpret and present data using appropriate tools.