Effectively show that the path of an irregularly shaped object, when thrown in the air, is a parabola—just as Newton predicted! Locate the center of mass of the “irregular” foam object by hanging a small weight from three corners of the object. Mark the position of the center of mass using a Velcro® dot. Then, toss and spin the object in the air. Students will easily observe the white dot will trace the path of a perfect parabola, while the object as a whole appears to wobble!
This demonstration offers visual proof for two fundamental physical principles—the mass of an object can be assumed to be at the center of mass, and the center of mass obeys Newton's laws of motion. The soft foam object is safe to throw without injuring students or damaging laboratory equipment. Detailed instructions are provided.
Concepts: Center of gravity, stability, Newton's laws of motion, parabolic motion.
Time Required: 20 minutes
Materials Provided: Fishing sinker, foam shape, nail, binder clips, pushpins, string, Velco® dots, hooks.
Additional ResourcesNo Additional Resources at the time.
Flinn Catalog/Reference Manual Page 611
Flinn Middle School Catalog/Reference Manual Page 279
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