Problem Library

What a Drag!

Length: 1-3 Hours

Discipline: Physics and Astronomy

Level: Introductory (majors)

Author: Nowak, Edmund

Students explore the effects of air resistance on the path of a baseball. Forces acting on a baseball are identified and the resulting set of differential equations for both the horizontal and vertical motion is derived. A computer program for solving these equations for the trajectory of a spherical object is provided. Students use the program to examine realistic trajectories of baseballs (or other spherical objects). Additional activities include determining at what angle one gets the maximum range when air resistance is not negligible and whether baseballs travel farther in high altitude parks.

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