A masterÕs degree project by Adam Middleton:

  Conservation of momentun in a system of objects


Download the report at


Click on: Conservation of momentun in a system of objects


 Conservation of momentum in a system of objects (High School)


This is a masterÕs degree action research project in 2013  by Adam Middleton, a young modeler in metropolitan Phoenix.  Adam took two physics Modeling Workshops at ASU, prior to beginning his masterÕs degree in the University of ArizonaÕs ŌTeachers in IndustryĶ program.


AdamÕs project is an adaptation of mechanics Unit 9 (impulsive force model; modeling transfer of momentum), to connect with STEM career practices.


I quote from his report:


PERFORMANCE TASK (in GRASPS format. This is used in Wiggins/Tighe Understanding by Design. See



Goal: Your task is to design a parachute system capable of delivering an aid package safely when dropped from an airplane.


Role: You are the lead mathematician/physicist and have been asked to design and evaluate the system by performing both theoretical calculations and multiple field tests.


Audience: You need to convince the aid organization that your design is both scientifically sound and is the most cost effective option.


Situation: A foreign aid company has decided to start delivering aid to a remote location. They need to be sure that deliveries as a fragile as an egg will land safely on the ground when dropped from a plane at the lowest possible cost.


Products/Performance/Purpose: You will need to develop a technical and a business argument in order to justify and support your design. You will also create a sketch and a prototype of your design so that it can be tested.


This group project is based on AlexÕs internship at a local electric utility company, Arizona Public Service.  Alex wrote,

ŌMy experiences at APS were centered on problem solving. Our goal within the Chemistry Technical Support Team was to evaluate the nature of a problem, design a potential solution, track and analyze the results, and then determine if further action was necessary. As I was working in the Chemistry department, I did not experience much content that I could directly bring back to my classroom, but I did try to incorporate the spirit of problem solving. I tried to incorporate this by asking students to design their own parachute system in order to protect a package of eggs. In order to do so, they will need to research, perform tests, evaluate their results, and redesign. Students will also have to evaluate priorities in determining how to minimize costs and appeal to a client from a business perspective, while still completing the task at hand.


Additionally, during the time that I spent at APS, I noticed a significant amount of collaboration and work done in groups or teams. As part of this unit, students will need to interact with one another in order to complete their task. This ties in with my action research project as they will be using the documentation system to assign tasks to one another and document their work. É