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With the Conservation of Linear Momentum Inquiry Lab Kit for AP® Physics 1, explore the laws that govern collisions and the conservation of momentum.

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AP Physics 1, Big Idea 4, Investigation 8

Collisions happen everywhere, from the sports field to the expressway. In this lab, students will explore the laws that govern collisions and the conservation of momentum.

An introductory activity familiarizes students with collisions by rolling steel balls into each other at various speeds on an aluminum track. This activity will give students a qualitative understanding of how momentum is conserved. The guided-inquiry activity challenges students to design a procedure to explore momentum conservation in a more quantitative manner. For example, students may use an air track, gliders and photogate timers to assess pre- and post-collision speeds of gliders of variable mass. Alternatively, students may use a stopwatch with the aluminum track that was used in the introductory activity. Additional opportunities for inquiry, such as activities in which students determine the masses of colliding objects, are also presented.

Complete for 24 students working in groups of four. An air track and photogate timer are optional and available separately All materials are reusable.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking
Constructing explanations and designing solutions

Disciplinary Core Ideas

HS-PS3.A: Definitions of Energy
HS-PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
HS-PS3.C: Relationship between Energy and Forces
HS-ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
HS-ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

Crosscutting Concepts

Patterns
Cause and effect
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Energy and matter

Performance Expectations

HS-PS3-1. Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component in a system when the change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flows in and out of the system are known.
HS-PS3-2. Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted for as a combination of energy associated with the motion of particles (objects) and energy associated with the relative position of particles (objects).
HS-PS3-3. Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.
HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.