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Crash Lesson

Experiment #38 from Physical Science with Vernier


Have you ever watched a giant crane swing a huge metal ball and tear down a building? Or hammered a nail into a piece of wood? What is it that allows you to do that? What is that “thing” that allows you to get things done?

In this experiment you will investigate how the speed of an object affects its ability to “get things done.” In particular you will study how speed affects the distance a cart can push a 3-ring notebook across a surface.

In order to change the speed you will need to vary the height that you release the cart up a track, similar to what you explored in Experiment 36, “Speeding Up.”


  • Use a Motion Detector to measure speed.
  • Graph data.
  • Make conclusions about how speed affects the ability to “do things.”

Sensors and Equipment

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

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This experiment is #38 of Physical Science with Vernier. 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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