The Block on the Sphere Class Project 1 - For High School AP Physics 1 Students

Ceres Science
Grade Levels
11th - 12th, Homeschool, Staff
Formats Included
  • Zip
10 pages
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Ceres Science


The Block on the Sphere Project 1 is an excellent Windows application for high school AP physics students. It is based on one AP Physics problem given in 1983, which I consider one of the best problems in Newtonian Mechanics in many years. It is a remarkable activity to help physics student master dynamics, circular motion, and conservation of energy. The students will be surprised about the results.

We made this problem more challenging in several ways, and a great learning activity for advanced and AP Physics 1 students. The Block on the Sphere Project is about a small block that is placed on top of a large sphere. The block is then touched very softly, causing it to slide, starting from rest, on the frictionless surface of the sphere. Eventually, the block loses contact with the surface of the sphere and becomes a projectile.

The following data needs to be entered:

Mass of the block


Radius of the sphere

From the moment the block is released on top of the sphere, to the moment the block becomes a projectile after traveling an arc in degrees that needs to be estimated, for every 5-degree segment the block slides, the computer will calculate the following quantities:

Potential Energy PE (PE of the block is zero at the center of the sphere)

Kinetic Energy KE of the block

Total Energy TE

Velocity V

Linear Acceleration a

Centrifugal Force F

Normal Force N

All the results will be printed on the screen.

It is recommended that teachers give a different set of values to each student.

There are three good things about this product. First, the complete solution of this problem is explained in minute detail. Second, the students will be highly motivated while they work for about 2 hours to complete the Block on the Sphere project. And third, with this application, the teacher will be able to enter the data for one student in a few seconds, and then view the Answer Key on the screen right away.

Again, this physics application is for computers using Windows 10 or newer.

Ceres-Science teacher support:

For more information about other physics products created by Ceres Science and available in TpT, please visit:

Total Pages
10 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
2 hours
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