September 29

Newtonian Mechanics in Sport

Welcome to the Newtonian mechanics in sport project.  Please view the videos and think about what research you would like to do in class.  You will be required to choose some aspect of a sport that you think you could improve, and use the techniques outlined in the videos below to scientifically measure, and research that choice.  The goal of this project is to use the scientific method to improve your, or a friend’s sporting ability.


Video 1: Introduction


Video 2: Guide to using the software



 Using the Data

Once the data has been exported as a comma separted file (.csv) it is available for a wide range of uses.  The file contains time data, displacement in the x and y directions, and the velocity in the x and y directions.  This data is visible in the first five columns of the spreadsheet below.   To get the magnitude of the velocity at any point, we can use pythagorus, as has been done in column G (labelled Total velocity).  A graph of Total velocity versus time is shown below the data.

The column theta is the angle of the velocity above the horizontal, and has been calculated using trigonometry.  The formula can be seen in the formula bar above the data.  In the football example the maximum angle is related to how far the football is kicked.  This is another possible experimental project.

Remember that acceleration, force, work, and power can be calculated from this data, so these are all aspects you could investigate.


Below is a simple example where the x and y components of the angle of velocity is calculated, and the Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 1.53.50 pm

Project Rationale

This product has been produced as part of the Bachelor of Teaching course, Digital Learning for a Digital Generation.  The above heading is a link for information on the thinking behind this kind of lesson.


Extra Graphs 

Here is a link to the plotting script used to generate the plots, and here is a link to the downloadable executable (written for PCs).  Here are some extra graphs produced using this executable.

Software used

The following software was used in creating this activity:

  • Vernier Video Physics
  • Vernier Graphical
  • WordPress – for generating webpages
  • AirServer by App Dynamic – for mirroring the iPad to the Mac
  • Microsoft Excel – for data analysis
  • Open Source python – a scripting language used for more data analysis