Physics 200 (Stapleton)                                                                 Name: ____________________________________

Projectile Launcher Project


Goal:  apply a knowledge of physics to the real life problem of attacking targets with medieval siege weapons


Helpful Links:




1)      Create a single Google spreadsheet with an individual tab for each of the items below.  Here is a template that you may copy and complete.  Here is a video showing how the spreadsheet should work.

a)      Initial Speed Calculator:  calculates the initial speed of a projectile launched horizontally from a surface of given height and traveling a given horizontal distance.  In other words, if you enter the horizontal distance traveled (in meters) and the height of the launch point (in meters), the calculator gives you the initial speed in meters per second.

b)      Trajectory (flight path) Simulator, with graph [video link]:

i)        For a projectile with a given release angle and initial speed, this spreadsheet calculates the x and y position at every moment in time during a projectile’s flight.

ii)       This sheet should include a graph showing x position vs. y position.  This graph shows the theoretical flight path of the projectile.  X position should be plotted on the x axis.

c)       Launcher Speed Calibration Graph:  shows the relationship between the distance the launcher is stretched and the initial speed of the projectile.  The initial velocity should be on the Y axis, and the stretch distance should be on the X axis.  You can create your own scale for stretch distance (x axis).

2)      Calibrate your launcher by using the initial speed calculator spreadsheet tab(or some other spreadsheet of your choosing) and creating a calibration graph.

3)      Use your spreadsheets to solve three “problems.”  Each problem will require you to choose a combination of launch angle and stretch distance that will allow you to hit a target with your launcher.

4)      Compete in the contest.  You will get two shots at each target, and the best shot is kept as your score.  Your score will be your % error (miss distance * 100% / distance to target).  Low score wins.

5)      What to turn in for a project grade:

a)      Your spreadsheet

b)      Your “solutions” to the contest problems.

c)       Written explanations telling how you solved each of the contest problems.


Example Problems:


1.  The target and launch pad are at equal elevations.  The horizontal distance from launcher to target is 5m.  There is a 1m tall wall positioned at the midpoint between the launch pad and the target.


2.  Horizontal distance to target = 3.5m.  Target is 1.2m above launch pad.


3. Target and launch pad are at equal elevation.  Horizontal distance to target is 4m.  There is a wall positioned between the target and the launcher.  The wall is 1m away from the target.  The wall contains an open window.  The window is 0.5m tall, spanning a height between 0.75m and 1.25m.