Thursday, September 26, 2013

Drag Graphs and Terminal Velocity

This summer, I posted my progression on drag here. One of the new elements was a pair activity where students each calculate the terminal speed of some random object that they come up with and draw (on the same set of axes) the position, velocity, and acceleration curves for the two objects. I then put the values into a VPython script and we check.

We did that today, for the first time, and it went pretty well. The students picked an iPad vs. a calculator and a big (1m on a side) metal box vs. a 747 (nose first). Here's what they got:
iPad (red), calculator (blue)

Neat that the heavier iPad had a lower terminal speed - it's much bigger!

747 (red), box (blue)

That 747 didn't even come close to getting to its terminal speed from 400 meters: how about from 10,000 meters?
747(red), box (blue)

Not much better there. It took nearly 300 km of fall to get there - very heavy, very low drag coefficient.

It was a bit unwieldy entering the values during class, so I think that I might do a Google form/Googlecl/VPython solution to pull those values in from the cloud next year.

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