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Center of Mass

Figure from experiment 19 from Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics


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

No probeware required for this experiment.

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 19 from Advanced Physics with Vernier — Mechanics Lab Book

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

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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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