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In this interactive students fire various objects out of a cannon, including a golf ball, football, pumpkin, human being, a piano, and a car.  By manipulating angle, initial speed, mass, and air resistance, concepts of projectile motion come to light in a fun and game-like environment. Newer features let users set drag coefficient and altitude. Can you set the initial conditions so that you hit the target?

See Related Resources for a link to the older version of this simulation.

This item is part of a large collection of free simulations developed by the Physics Education Technology project (PhET) based on principles of PER (Physics Education Research).
Editor's Note: This is the newer HTML5 version of PhET's 'Projectile Motion". You'll appreciate the great usability and new tools! Highly adaptable for middle and high school.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Applications of Newton's Laws
- Motion in Two Dimensions
= Projectile Motion
- High School
- Middle School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Interactive Simulation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended Users:
Access Rights:
Free access
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license. Additional information is available.
Rights Holder:
University of Colorado-Boulder
2d motion, acceleration, air resistance, ballistic motion, drag coefficient, gravity, interactive multimedia, kinematics, projectile motion
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created January 5, 2018 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
January 5, 2018 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
December 17, 2017

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Forces and Motion (PS2.A)
  • The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (6-8)
  • Newton's second law accurately predicts changes in the motion of macroscopic objects. (9-12)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity (3-12)
  • Algebraic thinking is used to examine scientific data and predict the effect of a change in one variable on another (e.g., linear growth vs. exponential growth). (9-12)
Systems and System Models (K-12)
  • Models can be used to represent systems and their interactions. (6-8)
  • When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined. (9-12)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to developing, using and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems. (6-8)
    • Develop and use a model to describe phenomena. (6-8)
  • Modeling in 9–12 builds on K–8 and progresses to using, synthesizing, and developing models to predict and show relationships among variables between systems and their components in the natural and designed worlds. (9-12)
    • Use a model to provide mechanistic accounts of phenomena. (9-12)

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
  • 9-12: 4F/H1. The change in motion (direction or speed) of an object is proportional to the applied force and inversely proportional to the mass.
  • 9-12: 4F/H8. Any object maintains a constant speed and direction of motion unless an unbalanced outside force acts on it.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M1. Models are often used to think about processes that happen too slowly, too quickly, or on too small a scale to observe directly. They are also used for processes that are too vast, too complex, or too dangerous to study.
  • 9-12: 11B/H1a. A mathematical model uses rules and relationships to describe and predict objects and events in the real world.

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics Alignments

Standards for Mathematical Practice (K-12)

MP.2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

High School — Algebra (9-12)

Seeing Structure in Expressions (9-12)
  • A-SSE.1.b Interpret complicated expressions by viewing one or more of their parts as a single entity.

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Kinematics: The Physics of Motion
Unit Title: Motion in More Than One Dimension

This popular sim has been converted to HTML5 and dressed up with cool new features. As with the older version, students will set initial speed & angle, and choose from a variety of projectiles (pumpkin, piano, cannonball, person). Now they can also set drag coefficient and easily see how air resistance affects the trajectory. You can also adjust the gravitational constant and manually adjust the diameter of the projectile. Very robust, very easy to adapt to different learning levels!

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
(PhET, Boulder, 2017), WWW Document, (https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/projectile-motion).
PhET Simulation: Projectile Motion HTML5 (PhET, Boulder, 2017), <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/projectile-motion>.
APA Format
PhET Simulation: Projectile Motion HTML5. (2017, December 17). Retrieved May 28, 2023, from PhET: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/projectile-motion
Chicago Format
PhET. PhET Simulation: Projectile Motion HTML5. Boulder: PhET, December 17, 2017. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/projectile-motion (accessed 28 May 2023).
MLA Format
PhET Simulation: Projectile Motion HTML5. Boulder: PhET, 2017. 17 Dec. 2017. 28 May 2023 <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/projectile-motion>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PhET Simulation: Projectile Motion HTML5}, Publisher = {PhET}, Volume = {2023}, Number = {28 May 2023}, Month = {December 17, 2017}, Year = {2017} }
Refer Export Format

%T PhET Simulation: Projectile Motion HTML5 %D December 17, 2017 %I PhET %C Boulder %U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/projectile-motion %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D December 17, 2017 %T PhET Simulation: Projectile Motion HTML5 %I PhET %V 2023 %N 28 May 2023 %8 December 17, 2017 %9 text/html %U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/projectile-motion

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PhET Simulation: Projectile Motion HTML5:

Is Version Of PhET Simulation: Projectile Motion

A link to the original Flash version of the PhET simulation "Projectile Motion".

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