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The Momentum and Collisions Demonstration Kit for physical science and physics is a simple but effective demonstration that shows how to distinguish between elastic and inelastic collisions.

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Which collision imparts more momentum—an object that hits a block of wood and sticks to it or an object that bounces straight off? The answer will knock over one of the blocks, not to mention your students! This simple but effective demonstration uses two different types of rubber balls that swing into wooden blocks to distinguish between elastic and inelastic collisions. One ball is very resilient, or bouncy, and will rebound to its initial height or position when striking a surface. The other ball hardly bounces at all as it absorbs all of the energy from a collision. What happens afterward can be described mathematically using equations to compare conservation of momentum in the two cases. Your students are much more likely to understand and remember the results, however, when they see them in action! Includes student worksheet and comprehensive Teacher Notes with lab hints and teaching tips as well as answers to discussion questions.

Concepts: Conservation of momentum, conservation of kinetic energy, inelastic vs. elastic collisions, recoil.
Time Required: 10 minutes
Materials Provided: Spheres with hook screws, string, wooden blocks.

Correlation to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

Science & Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems
Developing and using models
Planning and carrying out investigations
Analyzing and interpreting data
Using mathematics and computational thinking

Disciplinary Core Ideas

MS-PS2.A: Forces and Motion
HS-PS2.A: Forces and Motion

Crosscutting Concepts

Cause and effect
Scale, proportion, and quantity
Systems and system models

Performance Expectations

HS-PS4-1: Use mathematical representations to support a claim regarding relationships among the frequency, wavelength, and speed of waves traveling in various media.