Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Conservation of Momentum


The goal of this activity is for students to discover that the total momentum of a system is constant when all the forces on the system are internal to the system. In the Preliminary Observations, students observe a number of collisions between two dynamics carts. Students identify the system to be investigated and list factors that may influence the momentum of that system. Students then design an experiment to examine the momentum of the system of two carts before and after the collision.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify variables, design and perform investigations, collect data, analyze data, draw a conclusion, and formulate a model based on data from the investigation.
  • Determine momentum and total momentum, based on velocity and mass measurements
  • Create a mathematical model of the relationship between initial total momentum and final total momentum.

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

  • 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 9 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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