top of page
Force and Motion Study: Motion in Two Dimensions | Make a Parabolic Path Visible

In this experiment students prop a table or desk so that it slants and then set up a ramp perpendicularly. When a marble is rolled down this ramp it gains horizontal speed and when it rolls onto the slanted table, it gains vertical acceleration. Combining these two motions results in the classic parabolic curve of projectile motion. Kids can clearly track its motion and see its shape. Continually rolling the ball down the ramp demonstrates the repeatability of the experiment.


Students can independently adjust the horizontal and vertical speeds to show how each affects the resulting parabolic path and begin to understand that the shape of falling objects is due to constant horizontal speed combined with accelerating vertical speed.


Concepts Addressed

  • All objects fall at the same rate.
  • Horizontal speed has no affect on vertical speed/falling.
  • Projectiles always fall with a parabolic motion.

Materials Needed per setup: grooved ruler, marble or ball bearing, blank newsprint, dish of water.


Prep Needed  Gather supplies

Teaching Time   20-30 min


Related Labs Motion and Newton's Laws

Force and Motion Study: Motion in Two Dimensions | Make a Parabolic Path Visible


    Answer Keys and Teacher Notes address most questions and issues that might arise in this study—you shouldn’t have to do any outside research unless you want to.

    Connect with me: If you have questions or problems, please let me know and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.


    This resource (along with all resources sold on this site) can be found inside the membership. For information on that option, click here.

    Terms of Use   Copyright © Carolyn Balch. All rights reserved by the author. This product is to be used by the original downloader only. Copying for more than one teacher, classroom, department, school, or school system is prohibited. This product may not be distributed or displayed digitally for public view. Failure to comply is a copyright infringement and a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Clipart and elements found in this PDF are copyrighted and cannot be extracted and used outside of this file without permission or license. Intended for classroom and personal use ONLY.

    Related Products