Faculty Research at Morehead State University


Falling PC Solitaire Cards: An Open Inquiry Approach

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Many of us have played the PC Solitaire game that comes as standard software in many computers. Although I am not a great player, occasionally I win a game or two. The game celebrates my accomplishment by pushing the cards forward, one at a time, falling gracefully in what appears to look like a parabolic path in a drag-free environment. One day, as I was watching this progression, I asked myself what is the downward acceleration of the playing cards. Could the game programmer have used a realistic value of Earth’s acceleration due to gravity? It occurred to me that this could be an excellent open-inquiry activity for high school or introductory college physics students!