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Momentum and Collisions

Experiment #11 from Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics

Education Level
High School


You may have learned that a moving object possesses kinetic energy. Momentum is another property of an object, related to its mass and velocity, that is useful to describe its behavior. Momentum, p, is the product of the mass and velocity of an object, p = m•v.

You may have learned an external force produces a change in the momentum of an object. If we consider as our system two carts that undergo a collision, then any forces they exert on one another are internal to the system. In this experiment you will examine the momentum of both carts before and after collisions to see what effect, if any, these forces have on the momentum of a system.


In this experiment, you will

  • Collect velocity–time data for two carts experiencing different types of collisions.
  • Compare the system momentum before and after collisions.
  • Compare the kinetic energy of the system before and after collisions.

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This experiment is #11 of Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics. 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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