Physics & Physical Science Demos, Labs, & Projects for High School Teachers

Final Exam – Roadrunner

Posted on: June 18, 2008


Yes, I showed a five minute episode of a Roadrunner cartoon as part of my Physics final exam. The students were instructed to watch it through the first time and maybe jot some quick notes. They were shown the video a second time in order to have enough time to get their thoughts together.

Their task was to identify five principles of physics that are done either correctly or incorrectly in the cartoon. The students needed to identify the principle, explain or define it, then use an example from the cartoon and explain whether or not the cartoon got it right. If they got it wrong, they needed to explain what should have happened.

I actually had three videos, the first was the Apollo 15 video of an astronaut dropping a Falcon feather and a hammer on the surface of the moon. The astronaut says, “Mr. Galileo was correct” as the objects hit the surface of the moon at the same time. I wanted the students to tell me what Galileo was correct about. I got a lot of right answers, but I also got a lot of wrong ones.

The second video was a very old scene from Buck Rogers. I’m talking about the newsreel version, very old and dated. That particular segment didn’t go over as well, the kids didn’t see enough of what was wrong in the show. Let’s just say that I won’t be using that video segment next year.

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1 Response to "Final Exam – Roadrunner"

This is my first visit to your site and I have found a partner in physics thought! This is how I open my first class of the year–watch a Roadrunner episode and have students identify the physics demonstrated (mainly the laws being violated) to open a discussion of the variety of topics to be covered during the year. I think including it on a final is a great idea!

I am thankful to have found your excellent resource. Thank you for sharing.

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