The Stick That Comes Back


  • several boomerangs
  • outdoor playing field
  • video camera


one Discuss with the class the several principles that cause a boomerang to return when thrown properly.

two Discuss with the class the throwing technique of a boomerang. (A boomerang is launched almost vertically. The angle depends on the speed of the wind. If a boomerang were to be launched horizontally, it would begin to climb until the wings stalled. At this point, the boomerang would simply fall to the ground. The boomerang is also thrown at an angle to the wind. The thrower starts by facing the wind and turns about 50 degrees to his right or left, depending on whether the thrower is right or left-handed. With the proper angle to the wind, the boomerang will return to you as planned).

three Go out on the playing field and practice the hold of the boomerang together. Then ask for a couple of volunteers to try and throw the boomerang so that it will return. Continue with just a couple of students until they have it mastered and then go onto a new group of students. (If everyone tries at once there may be some mishaps). Continue with each small group until everyone can throw the boomerang. Also, make sure that people are far enough away from each other to be safe.

four Continue throwing the boomerang until everyone feels somewhat comfortable.

five Have a volunteer video tape the boomerang as it is thrown and successfully returned.

six Return to the classroom and view the video tape. Discuss the dynamics that are at play when the boomerang returns to its sender.

seven Have a discussion of the students' experiences of throwing the boomerang. Have the students relate their experience to the several principles that apply when the boomerang is thrown.

eight Ask the students to write a one page report on why a boomerang returns when it is properly thrown. Ask them to include the following principles: Bernoulli's relation, gyroscopic stability, gyroscopic precession, and Newton's laws of motion.

nine Have the students read their reports in front of the class.

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Last modified: Sat Aug 30 15:43:39 PDT 1997

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