Conservation of Momentum: Marble Collisions

What happens to the momentum of an object when it strikes another object? Scholars roll a marble down a ramp so it collides with another marble. By measuring the speed of each marble before and after the collision, pupils answer this question. Changing the relative masses allows young scientists to further explore the concept.

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CCSS: Adaptable
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Instructional Ideas
  • Test if the length of the inclined plane matters by using both a toilet paper tube and a paper towel tube with all other variables the same
  • Connect the concept to car crashes in order to relate it more directly to students' lives
Classroom Considerations
  • Lab requires many mathematical computations that can be performed with a calculator; the advanced version assumes prior knowledge of algebra
  • Reserve a computer lab, making sure each computer has a working microphone and the software installed before class
  • Offers a regular and advanced version of the lab for differentiation
  • Includes an introductory lecture that covers all included vocabulary
  • None