The law of conservation of momentum states that momentum cannot be created or destroyed. Students will use the Colliding Pucks Momentum Lab software to test this law by using a computer simulation of two colliding pucks. They will also be investigating the differences between the two types of collisions, elastic and inelastic by calculating out their kinetic energies.
The Momentum Simulator software consists of five simulations of two pucks colliding on a frictionless surface. These simulations are numbered I, II, III, IV, and V, some of which are elastic and some of which are inelastic. There are six sections in the included
experimental handout , the first five of which deal with these five simulations in order. These five scenarios are shown in the main menu screen below.
If momentum is conserved, then the momentum of the two pucks before the collision should be the same as the momentum of the two pucks after the collision. In these experiments, the starting mass and velocity of the two pucks will be known or set. The final velocity of the two pucks will be measured by using a scale and a timer.
Note that all masses are in kg, all velocities are in m/sec, and all times are in sec.
Students can get help on the basic definition of momentum and how to run the simulations by clicking on the "h” key standing for help.
THE SIMULATION & LAB HANDOUT
There are six sections to the lab. Each section illustrates a point about the conservation of momentum or elastic or inelastic collisions. The questions at the end of each section illustrate these points.
The lab handouts come in two parts. The first part contains the procedure and questions. The second part contains the data and calculation tables. The data tables also come in two parts. The first part is for the data and the second part is for the calculations.
Puck A always starts with velocity zero or moves to the right. Puck B always moves to the left.
At the beginning of each lab section, students choose some or all of the initial masses and / or velocities of the two pucks A & B. They then start the simulation. Puck B moves left until it strikes Puck A. Students then measure the distances and times to calculate the final velocities of the two pucks. All of these values are placed in the data table.
Then students calculate out the initial and final momenta and place them in the calculation table. Then they use these calculated values to answer the questions.
A shortened demonstration data table is provided. This can be made into an overhead so that you can do a couple of examples to show the students how to take data and do the calculations.
All of the files are included in a Zip file. Upzip the files and run the software by double clicking on the ColidingPucksLab.html file.
System Requirements: PC or MAC computer with Flash player
The following files are included:
Software: CollidingPucksLab.html (run file)
CollidingPucksLab.swf (flash file)
Lab Handout: CollidingPucksLab.doc & Colliding PucksData.doc
Lab Key: CollidingPucksLab_Key.doc & Colliding PucksData_Key.doc
Practice Data Handout: CollidingPucksDemoData.doc
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physics, momentum, mechanics, software, lab, experiment, data, collisions, graphing, equation, conservation