Law Enforcement - Hit-and-Stick Collisions

How do police determine the speed of a car that has hit a stopped vehicle? Scholars determine the momentum of the car system both before and after a collision. They identify instances where the law of conservation of momentum appears to be broken. Law Enforcement officers use this information to determine if the driver of the car told the truth about the speed they were going when hitting the other car. The lesson fits as part of a series on Momentum and Collisions.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Additional Tags
Instructional Ideas
  • Work the Apprentice level together as a demonstration before assigning the other two levels as independent work
Classroom Considerations
  • Relies on prior knowledge of conservation of momentum, how to calculate momentum, and the transfer of energy
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  • Applies to familiar situations for new drivers
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Common Core