Education Technology

Falling Objects and More

Published on 07/31/2012

Activity Overview

In this lesson, students will investigate the variables involved in a falling object.


  • Students will explore two objects falling to Earth in a vacuum. They will modify the initial position of the drop and the elasticity of each object.
  • Students will examine the object for the initial drop and for several bounces observing the position, velocity, and acceleration values.
  • Students will then add air resistance to the falling objects and observe how under certain conditions, objects may reach different terminal velocities, thus falling to the ground at different times.


  • gravity
  • position
  • velocity (instantaneous and average)
  • acceleration (due to gravity)
  • drag
  • terminal velocity
  • elasticity

About the Lesson

In this lesson, students will observe that all free falling objects fall to the Earth with the same acceleration regardless of size, shape, or weight. An object that falls through a vacuum is subject only to gravity. If an object falls through the atmosphere, there is an additional force called drag acting on the object.

As a result, students will:

  • Describe the variables involved in a falling object.
  • Vary the air, mass, and height of an object and examine the height, velocity, and acceleration of the object as a function of time.
  • Optional: Examine the effect of elasticity on a falling basketball as it bounces over time.