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1-Dimensional Elastic Collisions

Experiment #9 from Vernier Video Analysis: Motion and Sports

Education Level
High School


You may have played with a Newton’s cradle in the past. In a Newton’s cradle, typically five balls are suspended at rest, side-by-side, from parallel supports. When you lift and release a ball at one end, it strikes the other balls and the last one in line is propelled up; this effect is then repeated in the opposite direction, creating a continuous pattern. In this activity, you will explore several collisions between carts and determine what quantity (or quantities) are conserved.


In this experiment, you will

  • Use video analysis techniques to obtain velocity and time data for two carts before and after a collision.
  • Evaluate the effect a collision has on the total system velocity, total system momentum, and total system kinetic energy to determine if any are conserved.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following sensors and equipment. Additional equipment may be required.

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This experiment is #9 of Vernier Video Analysis: Motion and Sports. The experiment in the book includes student instructions as well as instructor information for set up, helpful hints, and sample graphs and data.

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