Short Title

Shape and Size Matter for Projectile Drag


air resistance, projectile, drag, tracker

Subject Area

Physics, Laboratory

Type of Submission



Newtonian mechanics is a fundamental building block of physics education, allowing us to characterize the motion of various objects in every day life. Here, we set out to investigate the effect of air resistance on projectile motion. We use high-speed cameras to record the flight of three different projectiles and compare this motion to a trajectory generated based on our theoretical model. We find that we are able to fit our model to the actual trajectory reasonably well, and find evidence that drag depends on the size and shape of the projectile.





Projectile& Shape & Size (cm) &Mass (g) &Expected $c$ (kg m$^{-1}$)\\ \hline

Ping pong ball& sphere& $d$=3.77(1) & 2.6(1)&$2.7(1)\times10^{-4} $ \\ \hline

Earplug& cyllinder& $d$=1.11(1), $l$=2.38(1) & 0.46(1)&$1.47(5)\times10^{-4}$\\ \hline


\caption{Table of projectile sizes. Note that $d$ is diameter and $l$ is length.}