The Projectile Simulator  Interactive is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on smart phones, on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Interactive can be scaled to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with smart phones, iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

This Interactive is intended for use near the beginning to middle stages of a learning cycle on projectile motion. When used with the provided activity page, the Projectile Simulator Interactive would make a great introduction to the topic of projectile motion. Many of the concepts that could not be easily discovered through laboratory work are brought to the surface with the activity. The concepts provide the foundation for subsequent problem-solving exercises. While the provided activity is recommended, this Interactive could also be used as the medium through which students could explore open-ended questions proposed by the instructor or by the student. Examples of such open-ended questions include:
  • What angle will cause a projectile to travel the furthest?
  • What is the relationship between launch height and horizontal displacement for a horizontally-launched projectile?
  • What is the relationship between the launch height and the time of flight for a horizontally-launched projectile?
  • What is the relationship between launch speed and the maximum height for an angle-launched projectile?
  • For a launch height of ______ meters (fill-in-the-blank), what angle will cause a projectile to travel the furthest? Does the answer depend on the launch speed or is the optimum angle the same for any launch speed?
The idea of such open-ended questions would be to challenge students to design their own procedure, to collect data from the simulation, to make a claim as to what the answer to the question is, and to support the claim with evidence and reasoning. Used in this manner, the emphasis is more on the development of experimental design skills than on the development of an understanding of projectile motion.

The Physics Classroom has also prepared three different exercises that provide students with a more directed experience. These exercises provide directions, questions that challenge students to make careful observations and to draw inferences from such observations. The first exercise, titled Projectile Simulation, is a lengthy exercise that targets a considerable number of concepts associated with both horizontally-launched and angle-launched projectiles. It does a very thorough job of targeting nearly all the concepts most instructors would want their students to know.The second exercise, titled Horizontally-Launched Projectiles, is less thorough and restricted to those types of projectiles that are launched horizontally from an elevated position. The exercise if very conceptual in nature, yet includes a little bit of data collection and analysis. It would be very level-appropriate for a range of students, from an honors physics course down to a physics-first or a Conceptual Physics styled course. The length of the exercise and the reading demand is considerably less than the first exercise. The third exercise, titled Angle-Launched Projectiles, is much like the second exercise in terms of its length, reading demand, and thoroughness. The focus of the exercise is on those projectiles that are launched at angles to the horizontal. 

Our Projectile Simulator is now available with two Concept Checker that coordinate with Exercise 2 and Exercise 3 (above). Do the simulation. Then follow it up with the Concept Checker:



Related Resources

There are numerous resources at The Physics Classroom website that serve as very complementary supports for the Projectile Simulator Interactive. These include:
  • Minds On Physics Internet Modules:
    The Minds On Physics Internet Modules include a collection of interactive questioning modules that help learners assess their understanding of physics concepts and solidify those understandings by answering questions that require higher-order thinking. Assignments VP7, VP8, VP9, and VP10 of the Vectors and Projectiles module provide great complements to this Interactive. They are best used in the middle to later stages of the learning cycle. Visit the Minds On Physics Internet Modules.

  • Curriculum/Practice: There is a single Concept Development think-sheet at the Curriculum Corner that would be very useful in assisting students in cultivating their understanding. It is named

    Projectile Motion

    Visit the Curriculum Corner.

  • Labwork: 
    Simulations should always support (never supplant) hands-on learning. The Laboratory section of The Physics Classroom website includes several hands-on ideas that complement this Interactive. Six notable lab ideas include ...

    Basketball Analysis
    Launcher Speed
    Projectile Problem-Solving I
    Projectile Problem-Solving II
    Maximum Range
    Hit the Target

    Visit The Laboratory.
  • Science Reasoning Activities:
    Science classrooms should be filled with reasoning activities. There are three related activities in the Projectiles section of the Science Reasoning Center that will challenge students to employ close reading, data analysis, and logical reasoning. The activities are named ...

    Up and Down
    Maximum Range of a Projectile

    Visit the Science Reasoning Center.

Additional resources and ideas for incorporating the Projectile Simulator into an instructional unit on projectile motion can be found at the Teacher Toolkits section of The Physics Classroom website.  Visit Teacher Toolkits.


The Physics Classroom would like to extend a special thanks to Nerd Island Studios for the creation of this HTML5 Interactive. Visit to see more great stuff by Nerd Island Studios.