When the punter is trying to hit the "coffin corner" (within the opposing team's 10-yard line), out of bounds, what is the best angle to kick the ball for correct distance and maximum "hang time?" (For more information on the physics involved, see: Gay, 2004, Chapters 4 and 5.)
How much difference does the spiraling motion of a well-thrown football make on the distance of the throw (compared to wobbling, or end-over-end motion of the ball)? Think of a way to reproducibly produce the desired ball motion and launch it with a constant force to find out. (For more information on the physics, see Gay, 2004.)
This project can apply to soccer, hockey, baseball and many other sports. What is the effect of stopping the kick/shot/swing at the moment of impact vs. following through? Think of a way to measure the outcome in each case, and explain your results. (idea from Gardner, 2000, 83-85; for more information with regard to specific sports, see: Barr, 1990, 12-14; Gay, 2004, 142-144; Adair, 2002, 30.)
You can compare the picture quality for photos taken at different shutter speeds with the camera handheld vs. with the camera on a tripod. (This is best done with a camera that has manual exposure control.)
If you compare products made primarily for boys with products made primarily girls, you will probably notice differences in colors for the two groups. Why do you think this is? Is it the marketplace responding to gender-based color preferences? Do you think it's the other way around, and the products create gender-based color preferences? Design a survey study to find out if gender actually make a difference in color preferences. Here are some questions you might want to consider when…
Invasive species are organisms (either plant or animal) that have been introduced into a new, non-native area and spread rapidly in the new environment due to a lack of regulation by predators. Frequently, invasive species will out-compete native species for resources which can put native species at risk. This is an especially big problem for threatened habitat and endangered species, which are already at risk. Survey your area to document cases of invasive species invading a local…
How high can you throw different types of balls, like a golf ball, a basketball, and a football? Would one of them go higher than the others? Do factors like mass, shape, and volume influence the final height? You can measure the approximate maximum height a thrown ball reaches by measuring the time it spends in the air.
To do this project, you'll need at least one ball and a helper with a stopwatch. Your helper should start timing just as you release the ball, and stop right when the ball…
Does adhesive tape hang tight at different temperatures? Measure the adhesive strength of tape at both low and high temperatures. To raise the temperature, we suggest using a blow dryer at both low and high heat settings. To lower the temperature, use an ice pack (try to keep condensation from forming on the tape and confounding the results). For even lower temperatures you could try "dry ice" (frozen carbon dioxide), if available. (Wear heavy gloves when handling dry ice, because it can…
Spoiler alert: Your physics textbook might contain an inaccurate equation. Are you shocked? Let us explain — many questions in your physics textbooks are simplifications of how things behave in the real world. For example, in physics textbooks, springs are usually modeled with the equation Force = stiffness x displacement:
F is the force in newtons (N)
Δx is the spring's displacement from its neutral position in meters (m)
k is the spring constant in newtons…
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Very Short (≤ 1 day)
An introductory high school physics course would be helpful (but not required) for this project.
You may be able to find some springs at home, for example by disassembling pens or toys. If you cannot find any at home, many online retailers such as
and specialty companies will have springs.
You can model this with an ice cube sliding down a plank: how high do you need to lift the end of the plank before the ice cube starts to slide? Try this with one side plain wood and the flip side waxed wood (use paraffin wax, candle wax or ski wax). Make sure both sides are equally smooth to start with. Do at least three trials. More advanced: using what you know about the forces acting on the ice cube, derive equations to calculate the coefficient of friction for each case. Variation:…
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