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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 requires each of the following Vernier sensors and equipment (unless otherwise noted):

Additional Requirements

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

Download Experiment Preview

The student-version preview includes:

  • Step-by-step instructions for computer-based data collection
  • List of materials and equipment

Note: The experiment preview of the computer edition does not include essential teacher information, safety tips, or sample data. Instructions for Logger Pro and other software (such as LabQuest App or TI handheld software, where available) are on the CD that accompanies the book. We strongly recommend that you purchase the book before performing experiments.

Download Preview

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

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Included in the Lab Book

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

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