Classroom Activity

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Key Topics: Parametric and parabolic equations

The C-9 jet is one of the tools utilized by NASA to simulate the gravity, or reduced gravity, that astronauts feel once they leave Earth. The C-9 jet flies a special parabolic pattern that creates several brief periods of reduced gravity. In this activity, students will study the flight pattern of NASA’s C-9 jet using their knowledge of pre-calculus and parametric equations.

Students will
  • understand and write parametric equations that model the path of NASA’s C-9 jet;
  • determine the distance and height of a projectile after t seconds;
  • analyze given parameters to solve a real-life problem situation;
  • find the maximum time and distance of one parabolic maneuver and interpret their significance; and
  • use time as a parameter in parametric equations.

Note: This activity requires the use of TI-Nspire™ technology to be used successfully.

Files for use with the TI-Nspire™
› Simulating Weightlessness TI-Nspire Educator Edition (PDF 324 KB)
› Simulating Weightlessness TI-Nspire Student Edition (PDF 238 KB)
Note: The following files are software specific file for Texas Instrument Nspire calculators.
› Simulating Weightlessness TI-Nspire Document (TNS 85 KB)
› Simulating Weightlessness TI-Nspire Solution Document (TNS 87 KB)

Required Media
› VIDEO: NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunity (13:35 minutes)