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Center of Mass

Experiment #19 from Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics

Education Level
High School


In the most of the previous experiments you have examined the motion of a single object as it underwent a variety of motions. You learned that an object subject to no external force moves at constant velocity. Suppose now that the system consists of two objects that undergo a collision. Clearly, the velocity of each object will change as a result of the collision. But if you were to consider both carts as a system, how would the center of mass of this system change, if at all, after a collision? In this experiment you will use video analysis techniques to examine the behavior of the center of mass of a system of moving objects.


In this experiment, you will

  • Use video analysis techniques to obtain position, velocity, and time data for two carts undergoing a variety of collisions.
  • Analyze the position-time graphs for the individual carts and compare these to the position-time graph for the center of mass of the system.
  • Compare the momentum of the system before and after collisions.

Sensors and Equipment

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

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This experiment is #19 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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