Buck Institute for Education

Fall of Javert

Author: Mathalicious

What will my students be doing?

In Fall of Javert, students use quadratic functions about how objects fall to determine how high Javert’s bridge must have been and explore this even further in two project tasks, Upholding the Law (of Gravity) and Actually, It is Rocket Science.

What's Included:

  • Project Overview
  • Launch Activity & Lesson Guide
  • Project Tasks
  • Student Handouts
  • Teacher Guides
  • Interactive Media

Current Version: January 10, 2018

At the end of the popular musical Les Misérables, a dejected Inspector Javert throws himself off a bridge and into the River Seine. As he falls, he sings...and sings...and sings. According to the song, he falls for a full eight seconds!

In the launch activity of Fall of Javert, students use quadratic functions and information about how objects fall (i.e. gravity) to determine how high Javert’s bridge must have been. Then, they use linear functions to figure out how fast he was traveling when he hit the water, and whether we can believe anything that Broadway says…er, sings.

Students explore this even further in the project tasks, and can choose between two topics. In one task, students where Javert’s fall would have made sense, but they have to think beyond the bounds of Earth to do it! In another, they construct and launch stomp rockets, use what they learned in the launch activity to figure out the altitude a stomp rocket can reach.

Project Notes

  • Subjects: Math
  • Grade Level: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Common Core Aligned
  • Time Required: <10 Hours
  • CC BY-NC

Sponsored By


The World Is an Interesting Place. Math Class Should Be, Too.

At Mathalicious, we think the world is an interesting place full of interesting questions. Do people with small feet pay too much for shoes? Do taller Olympic sprinters have an unfair advantage? How have video game consoles changed over time…and are we building the Matrix?

We also think math class is the perfect place for students and teachers to explore questions like these, and that it can be the most interesting part of the day.

Project Documents

Project Author

Mathalicious creates lessons around real-world topics that help middle and high-school teachers address the Common Core while challenging their students to think more critically about the world. Lessons explore such questions as, Do people with small feet pay too much for shoes, and should Nike charge by weight? (unit rates), and How does memory deteriorate over time, and how much can you trust it? (exponential decay). For more information, or to view its growing library of lessons, please visit www.mathalicious.com.