Statics, Kinematics, and Trajectory Motion Task

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Course: Engineering Design II

Task Length: 1 hour

Statics, Kinematics, and Trajectory Motion

Task Description


In this task, students will use the simulation to create and solve fundamental projectile motion problems.

Standard 15: Define a projectile. Define, compare and contrast kinematics and kinetics. Explain why a projectile travels along a parabolic curve. Solve fundamental projectile motion problems such as the initial horizontal velocity, initial vertical velocity, time for projectile to reach maximum height, maximum height reached by projectile, total flight time of projectile, distance projectile will travel horizontally, and firing angle. For example, given initial horizontal and vertical velocity of a projectile, use a graphical tool to graph the path of the projectile by programming equations defining the path.

 Content Understandings

Extending Understandings

Upon successful completion of these tasks students will demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Solve for the maximum height, total flight time, and the horizontal distance, a projectile will travel given the height of the canon, angle launched, and the initial velocity.
  2. Manipulate the variables of the kinematic equation to achieve given outcomes.

To move students towards deeper understanding, they should be given opportunities to:

  • Explain projectile motion using real world scenarios.
  • Explain how various variables impact projectile motion.

Support Strategies

If students are struggling to access this task, additional supports and strategies could be employed as students are engaging with the task.

Key Terms

Sentence Frames

Scaffolded Questions






The tennis ball became a ______ as it shot out of the ball machine.

_____ as a field of study is often referred to as the “geometry of motion”.

_______ will be lost as the molecule slows down.

  1. Why does a projectile travel along a parabolic curve.
  1. How are kinematics and kinetics similar and different?


Instructional Resources

Projectile Motion Simulation

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This simulation is attributed by:

PhET Interactive Simulations
University of Colorado Boulder


Projectile Motion Activity

This activity will allow students to apply what they learned during the lesson to a hands on inquiry based activity.

Student Resources

Click here to download the student activity for this task. 

Projectile Motion Simulation Activity

  1. An object is launched from ground level at a velocity of 20 m/s in a direction making an angle of 25° upward with the horizontal. Verify the simulation with hand calculations.
    1. What is the maximum height reached by the object?
    2. What is the total flight time (between launch and touching the ground) of the object
    3. What is the horizontal range (maximum x above ground) of the object?
    4. What is the magnitude of the velocity of the object just before it hits the ground?


  1. Using the initial values of problem one answer the following questions:
    1.  How does changing the mass of the object impact the object's projectile motion? Explain your response.
    2. How does changing the diameter of the object impact the object's projectile motion? Explain your response.


  1. Determine a new initial height and angle that allows an object with an initial speed of 20m/s to hit a horizontal range within +/- 0.05 meters of the horizontal range calculated in part c of problem 1.

Verify the simulation with hand calculations.