Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Kinetic Energy and Mass

Figure from experiment 12 from Physics Explorations and Projects


The goal of this activity is to develop a model of the relationship between mass and speed for a system composed of an object acted upon by a constant amount of work. Students develop an understanding of the relationship between mass and speed for a given energy transfer into the system.

In the Preliminary Observations, students observe the speed of an object moving due to a repeatable amount of work. The mass will be changed by some significant factor and the resulting change in velocity observed.

During the subsequent inquiry activity, students may use a photogate, motion detector, Go Direct Sensor Cart, Motion Encoder, video analysis, or other tools to collect data for a low-friction cart on a level track or other similar system.

Students should complete the activity having evaluated data graphically and developed a mathematical model of the relationship between mass and velocity for a system for a given amount of work done on the system.

Learning Outcomes

  • Design and perform an investigation.
  • Identify variables, design and perform an investigation, collect data, analyze data, draw conclusions, and formulate a model based on data from the investigation.
  • Create graphical representations of velocity of an object versus the mass of the object.
  • Create a mathematical model of velocity of an object with varying mass and a constant work input.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Option 4

Option 5

Additional Requirements

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

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS3.A Definitions of Energy
  • PS3.B Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
  • PS3.C Relationship Between Energy and Forces

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect
  • Systems and System Models
  • Energy and Matter

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Developing and Using Models
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
  • Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Experiment 12 from Physics Explorations and Projects Lab Book

<i>Physics Explorations and Projects</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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