The Physics of a Water Balloon Launcher

This web page was created in the Spring Semester 2004 for Professor Deardorff's Physics 24 class at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  From left to right, we are Wendy Griffin, Jennifer Clayton, Catherine Tefft, and Debbie Haisch.

The purpose of this web page is to explore the physics of a water balloon launcher.

The main physics concept at work is projectile motion, which is the two-dimensional motion of an object in a gravitational field.  To learn more about projectile motion click here.

The general equations for projectile motion do not take into account air resistance.  From experience we all know air resistance does change projectile motion, as well as the wind.  The data gathered for this experiment was taken on a rather blustery April day, with wind speeds of 17 mph.  Some background is needed about Newton's Law's of Motion and Bernoulli's equation relating the pressure and velocity to the motion of fluids, to figure out how and why air resistance changes projectile motion.  The combination of these two subjects is called aerodynamics.

To learn more about aerodynamics click here

To learn more about Newton or Bernoulli, click on their picture.

The shape of an object influences its aerodynamics, and thus the amount of air resistance, or drag it experiences.  The last part of the experiment uses different types of fruit to test the effect of shape on air resistance.


Data and Results



Page Created By: Jennifer Clayton
Last Updated: 4/13/04