The general goal is to explore some physical system or application to a level of detail and realism that goes beyond regular homework problems -- for example, to study the effect of air drag and various winds on a projectile's path, or work out the flight of a multi-stage rocket, or calculate an orbit in a realistic gravitational potential, etc. Many of these things will require numerical calculations with a computer, which you could do with a spreadsheet like Excel or with a program that you write. There is a list of suggested topics below, or you can come up with your own topic -- just check it with me. Regarding the scope of the project, my idea is that it should be something you invest a full day or two of time in doing (i.e. not multiple days -- unless you really want to!) and then write up, and that you should be able to tell us something interesting. Some projects may involve reading and reporting on the state of the art or things that others have done, but in those cases I would like to see either some calculations or some experimental research of your own on applying the principles and/or the results.

Presentations can have prepared slides (PowerPoint, etc.) or can use a blackboard or whiteboard -- your choice. It is pretty casual.

I will give you a grade based on:

- Your understanding of the relevant physics of the system, object, or whatever is the topic of your project
- The appropriateness and correctness of the work (calculation, etc.) that you do in connection with the project
- The quality of your presentation and explanation
- The general quality of your report
- How successful you are in telling us something interesting

- Now through November 21: consider possible topics, meet with me to discuss your choice or to get some help deciding, and settle on topic
- By November 21 we should set a date and time that works for your presentations during the last week of classes. I will send a Doodle poll link. I expect to split the 171H students into 2 or 3 groups and have all presentations on December 5, 6, 7, or 10.
- Work on project / presentation / report
- Dec 5-10: Give presentation - date and time to be determined
- Dec 10: Deadline (at midnight) for turning in written report

- Calculate realistic trajectories of a cannonball -- compared to where it would fall with no drag, calculate where it falls when drag is taken into account, or if there is a headwind, a tailwind of equal speed, a wind blowing from the side...
- Battleships can fire shells long distances. How much does the coriolis force affect where they land?
- Simulate a roller coaster with rolling friction, drag, or both.
- Figure out some more things about a Slinky that is hanging and then dropped. For instance, where is the center-of-mass initially, and as the top part of the Slinky collapses downward?
- Model the collapse of the core of a massive star when the mass of its core exceeds the Chandrasekhar limit. Consider uniform and non-uniform mass distributions.
- How / how much is the Moon's orbit around the Earth affected by the fact that it also feels a gravitational force from the Sun?
- In a galaxy such as the Milky Way, the mass is distributed in a very non-spherical way. How does this affect the orbital period of a star near the outer edge, compared to the case of having all that mass concentrated at the center of the galaxy? What other orbits are possible?
- Design a multi-stage rocket with reasonable assumptions about how much impulse you can get out of each kilogram of fuel, how much mass the rocket body has, etc. Figure out what it take to get into orbit.
- Calculate a "figure 8" orbit of a spacecraft circling the Earth and the Moon.
- Explore energy storage using large flywheels.
- Calculate the frictional force that you would get from a rope wrapped partway or fully around a cylinder.
- Research and report on non-standard friction, i.e. materials or situations that don't follow the usual simple formulas for frictional force.
- Consider a child's swing hanging from a branch. Calculate the force on the branch, and the period of the swinging motion, for different swing amplitudes.
- Consider a flexible chain lying on a table with part of the chain hanging over the edge of the table. What happens to a chain in this situation, treating this fully as a two-dimensional problem?
- Calculate the elapsed time for a spaceship trip to Alpha Centauri using relativity and assuming a certain rocket thrust to accelerate gradually in the first part of the trip and decelerate in the later part.
- How fast does a bubble rise in liquid? How does it depend on the properties of the liquid?
- From the racing billiard balls demonstration: condition(s) for ball to remain rolling on track through the dip
- Space elevator idea and designs
- Solar system orbit simulation including gravitational force between planets
- Kinetic friction: experiments to determine whether it is REALLY independent of sliding speed
- Yo-yo physics - e.g. how does a "sleeping" yo-yo sleep, and how does it wake up?
- Any other topic you're interested in -- maybe something you have heard or read about.