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Momentum: A Crash Lesson

Figure from experiment 38 from Physical Science with Vernier


An object’s momentum depends on both its mass and its velocity. Momentum can be expressed by the formula

p = mv

where p = momentum (in g•m/s), m = mass (in g), and v = velocity (in m/s). Momentum is an important factor in analyzing collisions, especially those of automobiles. In this experiment, you will study the relationship between a car’s momentum and the distance it pushes an object during a collision. You will use a balance or spring scale to measure the car’s mass (m) and a computerinterfaced Motion Detector to measure its velocity (v). You will then calculate momentum (p) using the formula given above.


In this experiment, you will

  • Measure velocity.
  • Measure mass.
  • Calculate momentum.
  • Graph data.
  • Make conclusions about momentum.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for Physical Science with Vernier »

Experiment 38 from Physical Science with Vernier Lab Book

<em>Physical Science with Vernier</em> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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