Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Impulse and Momentum

Figure from experiment 6 from Physics Explorations and Projects


The goal of this activity is to relate impulse and momentum, and to determine that the impulse is equal to the change in momentum. The investigation is set up in two parts. First, students will evaluate how to quantify the event that causes a change in motion (i.e., impulse). The second is to develop a model for how impulse changes the velocity or momentum of an object.

In the Preliminary Observations, students observe a cart experiencing an impulse, using a hoop spring on a force sensor to change the momentum of a cart. Students address impulse in Part I of the investigation.

In Part II, students address the question of quantifying the change in the motion state of the cart. Students who investigate the relationship between impulse and change in velocity should find that the constant of proportionality is about equal to the mass of the cart. Students who investigate the relationship between impulse and change in momentum should find that the two values are nearly numerically equal.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify variables, design and perform investigations, collect and analyze data, and draw a conclusion.
  • Determine impulse and change in momentum based on measurements of force and velocity.
  • Create a mathematical model of the relationship between impulse and the change in momentum.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Option 3

Option 4

Option 5

Option 6

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

  • PS2.A Forces and Motion

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Patterns
  • Cause and Effect
  • Systems and System Models

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Planning and carrying out investigations
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Using mathematics and computational thinking
  • Constructing explanations and designing solutions
  • Science models, laws, mechanisms, and theories explain natural phenomena

Experiment 6 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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