Featured in PASCO’s Advanced Physics Teacher Guide

Advanced Physics Teacher Guide


This manual features over 30 College Board curriculum and AP Physics exam inspired lab activities.

Momentum & Impulse

Lab Summary

Use a force sensor and a motion sensor to determine how the momentum and impulse associated with a collision are mathematically related.


Momentum and impulse associated with a collision are mathematically related.

  • Understand the forces and the distribution of forces associated with collision between a cart and barrier.
  • Experimentally unify the concepts of momentum and impulse.


  • Structured (Student Handout) (394 KB – PDF)
  • Structured (Teacher Information) (412 KB – PDF)
  • Guided Inquiry (Student Handout) (285 KB – PDF)
  • Guided Inquiry (Teacher Information) (242 KB – PDF)
  • Student Designed (Student Handout) (245 KB – PDF)
  • Student Designed (Teacher Information) (128 KB – PDF)
  • Method

    Students gain experience conducting the following procedures:

    • Releasing a cart down an incline allowing it to strike a force sensor at the bottom of the incline.
    • Measuring the velocity just before and just after the collision.
    • Plotting a Force versus Time graph of the collision.
    • Comparing the change in momentum to the impulse.

    Sensors / Equipment Used:

    PASPORT Motion Sensor


    The PASPORT Motion Sensor accurately measures position, velocity, and acceleration of a target. Can be used to track the motion of carts, balls, people and more.

    PASPORT Force Sensor


    Designed to measure both pulling and pushing forces. Uses range from collisions to tug-of-war.

    Base and Support Rod


    The Large Base and Support Rod includes built-in leveling screws and an aluminum rod that is 12.7 mm (1/2 in.) in diameter and 45 cm long.

    Basic PAStrack Dynamics System


    Two half-meter tracks designed to accept carts from the Dynamics Systems to study various motion related experiments.

    Track Rod Clamp


    Fastens to the T-Slot of a Dynamics track and accepts a 1/2 inch rod.

    Discover Collision Bracket


    This bracket fastens to the T-Slot of a dynamics track and securely holds the Force Sensor for measuring collisions with a cart.

    Materials Used:

    Balance, 1200-g capacity

    The Associated Bundle:

    Advanced Physics Standard Sensor Bundle


    This bundle contains the probeware needed to perform all 37 lab activities in the Advanced Physics lab manual.

    Interface Required

    This experiment may require software and an interface for data collection.