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Impulse and Momentum

Figure from experiment 19B from Physics with Vernier


The impulse-momentum theorem relates impulse, the average force applied to an object times the length of time the force is applied, and the change in momentum of the object:

\overline F \Delta t = m{v_f} - m{v_i}

Here, we will only consider motion and forces along a single line. The average force, F, is the net force on the object, but in the case where one force dominates all others, it is sufficient to use only the large force in calculations and analysis.

For this experiment, a Dynamics Cart will roll along a level track. Its momentum will change as it collides with a hoop spring. The hoop will compress and apply an increasing force until the cart stops. The cart then changes direction and the hoop expands back to its original shape. The force applied by the spring is measured by a Dual-Range Force Sensor. The cart velocity throughout the motion is measured with a Motion Detector. You will then use data-collection software to find the impulse to test the impulse-momentum theorem.


  • Measure a cart’s momentum change and compare it to the impulse it receives.
  • Compare average and peak forces in impulses.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

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 Physics with Vernier »

Experiment 19B from Physics with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Physics with Vernier</i> 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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