You are no doubt familiar with everyday uses of the term momentum (e.g., a sports team that has begun to exert superiority over an opponent is said to have gained “momentum”). However, in physics, this term has a precise definition: momentum, p, is the product of the mass and velocity of an object, p = m•v.

You have learned that a net force is required to change the velocity of an object. In this experiment you will examine how the momentum of a cart changes as a force acts on it. This will enable you to determine the relationship between force, the length of time the force is applied, and the change in the momentum of the cart.


In this experiment, you will

  • Collect force, velocity, and time data as a cart experiences different types of collisions.
  • Determine an expression for the change in momentum, Δp, in terms of the force and duration of a collision.