The high school physics project is one of the more challenging aspects of grade school academic requirements. Although physics is considered one of the more difficult sciences, it can be quite entertaining. Understanding the way that the world moves, and why, is an integral part to basic education. A project is a great way to take the formulas and calculations off the page by seeing what kinds of questions and answers the study of physics produces.
Rate of Speed Project: Galileo's Falling Objects
One of the basic concepts in physics is the force of gravity: -9.8 meters per second squared (acceleration). Everything falls at the same rate, whether it's a brick or a feather. You can do a simple experiment outlining this principle. Galileo dropped a 10 pound ball and a 1 pound ball from the top of the leaning tower of Pisa, but you won't need to go to such great heights. The experiment will cover motion, gravity, mass and acceleration. You'll be answering what force causes objects to fall to the ground and where it comes from. You'll need two balls of about the same size, but different weights, or mass; a ladder or step stool (basically a height to drop the balls from); and if you like a video camera. Set up the video recorder and drop the balls from the same height simultaneously, and record which ball hit the ground first in a data table. Make sure that you do several trials, as no theory can be a hypothesis without repeated results. If you used the video camera, it can back up your results. You can expand the experiment using different balls. Try balls that weight the same but are differently sized and/or shaped. Try objects that are different in all measurements.
A great place to look for other physics projects is online. Sciencebuddies.org is a nonprofit site that lists hundreds of ideas, separated by difficulty level and grade level. The site gives bibliographies, references and has sections for both parents and students. There are projects that deal with all aspects of physics. From walking coins on a vertical wire to levitating magnets, there are projects that seem centered more around magic than science. But that is one of the exciting things about the study of physics. Don't forget to consult with a physics teacher before you start your project. The teacher will be able to approve the difficulty level and give you some tips. They can point you in the right direction for research, and give you other project ideas. Instead of looking at a physics project as an extra chore to your class, think of it as a fun opportunity; with so many options there is no reason why it shouldn't be. Choose something that sounds interesting to you.
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