by Jon Shemwell

The purpose of this lab exercise is to represent, in a visually compelling way, the motion of an object in two dimensions. The idea is to make concrete what is essentially an abstract concept to enable students to see, think and talk about this motion in order to develop their understanding.

The images at left show what we want our students to understand about two dimensional motion: that the separate motions add to form one motion.

(T/F) If you are talking about a point mass, there is really no such thing as two dimensional motion (click here for answer)


This experiment is one part of a two part laboratory experience. The first part, represented here, is a physical experiment using computer based laboratory equipment. The second part is a computer simulation experiment using Interactive Physics. Because the apparatus is so large, the physical part of this experiment is probably only suitable as a whole-class activity with a single lab station.


Pre-Lab Questions [It is recommended that students work in lab groups to provide written answers to these questions, then discuss their answers with the whole class.]


Experiment Setup


Physical Experiment Procedure and Sample Data



If there are questions about this page, feel free to contact me at