Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Momentum and Collisions (Photogates)

Figure from experiment 11B from Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics


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

You may have learned that 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.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Motion on an Incline
2Error Analysis
3Newton's First Law
4Newton's Second Law
5Newton's Third Law
6Projectile Motion
7Energy Storage and Transfer: Elastic Energy
8Energy Storage and Transfer: Kinetic Energy
9Energy Storage and Transfer: Gravitational Energy
10AImpulse and Momentum (Motion Detector)
10BImpulse and Momentum (Photogate)
11AMomentum and Collisions (Motion Detectors)
11BMomentum and Collisions (Photogates)
12ACentripetal Acceleration
12BCentripetal Acceleration
13Rotational Dynamics
14Conservation of Angular Momentum
15Simple Harmonic Motion: Mathematical Model
16Simple Harmonic Motion: Kinematics and Dynamics
17Pendulum Periods
18Physical Pendulum
19Center of Mass

Experiment 11B from Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics Lab Book

<i>Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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