Education Technology

Collisions in One Dimension

Activity Overview

Students use the law of conservation of momentum to determine the momentums and velocities of objects involved in perfectly inelastic collisions.

Key Steps

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    Students investigate the relationships between velocity, kinetic energy, and momentum during perfectly inelastic one-dimensional collisions.

    First, students examine a simulation of one ice skater throwing a snowball to another. The first ice skater has an initial non-zero velocity, and the second ice skater is initially at rest.

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    Next, students make a graph of the position of the snowball vs. time. They assume a scenario in which the first skater holds the snowball for four seconds before throwing it to the second skater.

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    Finally, students calculate the kinetic energy of the snowball and the skaters before and after the throw. They use these calculations to describe the effects of inelastic collisions on kinetic energy.