When Potatoes Fly!


Year 12’s mission – to measure the potato-flight path!

Watch out – there goes a flying potato!

Year 12 Physics students experimented with the concept of projectile motion by launching potatoes and tracking their motion. Each student group selected a different mission to solve and then presented their findings to their class in the following lesson. The missions were:

Mission 1

Using only a stop clock and a tape measure, take measurements from a launch to calculate:

  • The angle of launch
  • The muzzle velocity of the potato
  • The maximum height reached

Mission 2 – Challenge!

Using only a tape measure and a protractor, take measurements from a launch to calculate:

  • The time of flight
  • The muzzle velocity of the potato
  • The maximum height reached

Mission 3

By taking a video clip of the launch of the potato:

  • Take measurements off the video clips by importing into Loggerpro 3 software to determine the muzzle velocity and angle of flight of the potato
  • Calculate the maximum height reached
  • Calculate the range

For Mission 2, the sub-sonic spuds travelled 75m when launched at an angle of 45 degrees. Solving Mission 2 is a real challenge – do you know which simultaneous equations are required to find the correct answers?!

Our Science teachers really value practical experiments – so when you’re next in school watch out for flying potatoes!