Conservation of Momentum Experiment - EX-5510B



In this experiment designed for use with PASCO Capstone software, the total momentum and total energy of carts undergoing elastic and inelastic collisions are measured. The values before and after the collisions are compared to verify that momentum is conserved in all collisions while energy is only conserved in elastic collisions.

Elastic and inelastic collisions are performed with two Smart Carts of different masses. Magnetic bumpers are used in the elastic collision and Velcro® bumpers are used in the completely inelastic collision. In both cases, momentum is conserved.

Cart velocities are recorded using the encoders inside the Smart Carts.  A real-time graph of velocity versus time is obtained for each cart, clearly showing when the collision occurred. This enables the student to determine the cart velocities immediately before and after the collision.

The kinetic energy before and after the collision is also studied. Kinetic energy is not conserved for inelastic collisions. It is also demonstrated that kinetic energy momentarily decreases during the elastic collision and then returns to the original value after the collision.

PASCO Advantage:

The magnitude and direction of the velocity of each cart is recorded continuously throughout the collision, eliminating the problem, in older methods, of positioning photogates too close or too far from the point of collision. And the Smart Carts transmit data wirelessly over Bluetooth 4.0, so there are no wires to get in the way and no need for an interface.

The total kinetic energy momentarily decreases during the collision because energy is stored as magnetic potential energy.

Bluetooth Low Energy Wireless Connectivity

Required Software:

PASCO products that use Bluetooth® Low Energy connectivity (wireless sensors, Smart Carts, and the AirLink) require the latest versions of our software.

PASCO Capstone is available for Mac and Windows. SPARKvue is available for Mac, Windows, iOS, Android and Chromebooks.

Additionally, the Wireless Motion Sensor and Wireless Smart Carts can be connected via Bluetooth and used with our MatchGraph app.

Compatibility/System Requirements

Any current model Chromebook, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android tablet or phone will support direct connection to PASCO Bluetooth Low Energy devices. Also, any Windows 10 device with Creators Edition 1703 or later will support direct connection.

Chromebook users MUST have the latest firmware updates for ALL wireless sensors in order to use them without the USB Bluetooth Adapter. Full information.

All other Windows computers/tablets, older Macs, and Chromebooks without updated sensor firmware currently require the PS‑3500 USB Bluetooth Adapter to connect to PASCO’s Bluetooth Low Energy devices.

Full compatibility details are available, including compatibility information for older computing devices.

Buying Guide

USB Bluetooth Adapter

Windows devices, Chromebooks and older Macs lack native Bluetooth® Smart support and require an adapter to use PASCO wireless products.

All current model Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android tablets or phones support direct connection to PASCO Bluetooth Smart devices and do not require the adapter.

Full compatibility details are available.

USB Bluetooth Adapter   PS-3500
Ohaus Triple-Beam Balance (without Tare)
Ohaus Triple-Beam Balance (without Tare)   SE-8723

Software Required

This product requires or recommends PASCO Capstone for data collection and analysis.