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Big Ideas Of Science


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Before running the simulation, read the description of the motion below and see if you can predict what the different graphs will look like. The zero for gravitational potential energy is the ground level, and the ball's initial gravitational potential energy is +400 J.

This is a simulation of the motion of a ball that has a rocket engine mounted underneath it. The ball is released from rest from a height of 40 meters above the ground, and it falls 20 meters under the influence of gravity alone. At that point, the rocket engine kicks in, giving the ball an upward acceleration of 10 m/s/s (as opposed to the acceleration downward of 10 m/s/s that it just had).

You can see the ball's motion diagram, with the position marked at 0.5 s intervals, as well as graphs of the Earth-ball system's gravitational potential energy, the ball's kinetic energy, and the total mechanical energy (the sum of the potential and kinetic energies), as a function of time or as a function of distance traveled.

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