Lesson Plan

Projectile Motion

Describe the motion of Projectiles
Don P.
Classroom teacher
Grosse Pointe North High School
Grosse Pointe Woods, MI
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My Grades 10, 11, 12
My Subjects Science

Students will be able to...

  1. Define "projectile".
  2. Describe and draw the motion of a projectile.
  3. Mathematically represent the motion of a projectile.
Grades 10 - 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Describe the motion of the Angry Birds

Angry Birds Space
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I love to use Angry Birds in the classrooom.  I project the game from my iPad on to the screen and have a student or two play a couple of levels.  My questions to the students are, "Describe the motion of the Angry Birds after they have left the slingshot."  

Because the students are familiar with the game (or one like it) they can all tell me that the birds fly in an "arc" of some sort. 

The next question, "How does the way that you fling the Angry Bird change the arc?"

2 Let's explore the physics classroom

The students are directed to (in small groups or individually) read the sections on projectiles from The Physics Classroom.

From their reading they are to summarize with 4 points they thought were the most important or instructive.  

I have them list their summarized points and share them with the rest of the class.

3 Tracking the Motion of a Projectile - Introduction

Vernier Video Physics is a very powerful app that allows students to track (frame by frame) the motion of actual projectiles.  

I set up the Vernier Video Physics app on my iPad and use it to record the motion of a tennis ball thrown across the classroom.  

I then use an Apple TV to show the student how to use the app to track the motion of the ball, frame by frame.  I then show them how to get the equations of the motion in both the vertical and hozitonal directions with the app.


4 Tracking the Motion of a Projectile - Student Application

So I have students break up into small groups and using some sort of ball (tennis, basketball, baseball, football) throw it and use their device to record the motion of the ball.  It takes a little while for the students to get the hang of this but once they do it is fun and easy.  

They use the app to create equations for the motions in both the horizontal and vertical directions. 


5 Present your Findings

The students then summarize all of their findings from the video analysis using Educreations Interactive Whitebaord.

The students can draw or take and add pictures and then take over the Apple TV to show their findings.

These would include, the video, the analysis and the mathematical equations they created.