Lab 6 Momentum

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Lab Assignment 6: Momentum

Instructor’s Overview

Collisions and momentum are something we experience everyday. Most of the
collisions in our life are benign – bumping into a colleague in the hall, enjoying an
evening of bowling, or competing in a billiards tournament. Some collisions, such
as automobile accidents, are more serious. In these cases, advances in safety
technology that leverage understanding of impulses and momentum have
dramatically reduced fatalities. In this lab we will explore the concepts of impulse
and momentum.

This activity is based on Lab 12 of the eScience Lab kit.

Our lab consists of two main components. These components are described in
detail in the eScience manual. Here is a quick overview:

  • In the first part of the lab, you will experiment with nearly elastic collisions
    using marbles.
  • In the second part of the lab, you will put on your safety engineer’s hat and
    design a safe landing zone for an egg.
    Take detailed notes as you perform the experiment and fill out the sections
    below. This document serves as your lab report. Please include detailed
    descriptions of your experimental methods and observations.
    Experiment Tips:
  • Instead of using a paper chute in the marble experiment, you can “flick” the
    marble(s) down the ruler groove to the stationary line of marbles as in this
  • I recommend using hard-boiled eggs in the second component of the lab
    activity. They are less messy and serve as a handy snack after you complete
    the lab.






Material and Methods

Marble experiment

Based on your results from the marble experiment, please answer the following

  1. Whatkindofcollisionisexhibitedbythemarblesinthisexperiment,andwhy?
  2. Whenonemarblehittheendofthelineofmarbles,howmanyshotoffthe
    other end? Describe the momentum of the set of marbles before and after
    the collision (assume elastic collisions).
  3. Howdidthespeedofthemarblethatcomesofftheendofthelinechangeas
    you increased the speed of the marble that travels down the chute? Use
    what you know about the conservation of momentum to describe what is
  4. Whathappenedwhenyousenttwomarblesdownthechute?
  5. Writedownthetotalmomentumfortwomarblesofmassmbothmovingat
    velocity v. What is the kinetic energy of the system?
  6. Whenyoudroptwoballsatonce,whydoesn’tonlyonemarblecomeoffthe
    end twice as fast? Write down the kinetic energy of one marble with mass m
    and velocity 2v and compare this to your answer in Question 4 to check.
    (Note that we are assuming the collisions are perfectly elastic, when in reality
    this is an approximation.)

Egg experiment

Based on your results from the egg experiment, please answer the following

1. Didyoucomeupwithadesignthatpreventstheeggfrombreaking?
Describe your approach in detail.



  1. Whydidaddinglayersofpaperworkbetterthanonethicklayerwiththesame
    number of sheets? (Hint: over how much time is the force applied in each
  2. Whatdidyoudotoimproveyourapparatus?
  3. Explainhowacircusnetpreventstrapezeartistsfrominjuringthemselves
    even after falling from a large height.
  4. Whyitisimportanttobendyourkneeswhenyouhitthegroundafterjumping
    from several feet in the air?





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