Conservation of Momentum Experiment

Product Code: EX-5510B


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 dynamics 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 vs. 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, which eliminates the problem in older methods of positioning photogates too close or too far from the point of collision.


  • Designed for use with 2 Smart Carts


  • Conservation of momentum in elastic and inelastic collisions
  • Kinetic energy not conserved in inelastic collisions
  • Kinetic energy temporarily stored as magnetic potential energy during elastic collisions using magnetic bumpers


Conservation of Momentum Experiment

Software Required

This product requires PASCO software for data collection and analysis. We recommend the following option(s). For more information on which is right for your classroom, see our Software Comparison: SPARKvue vs. Capstone »

Connectivity Options

This product can connect directly to your computer or device with the following technologies. No Interface required. See the following guide for details regarding device compatibility: Wireless Bluetooth Product Compatibility »

What’s Included

Manual Downloads

Product Manuals for the Included Products

Dynamics Track Mount Manual (CI-6692)
(41 KB – .pdf – English)
Rotary Motion Sensor Manual PS-2120A
(1.1 MB – .pdf – English)
1.2 m PAScar Dynamics System Manual
(546 KB – .pdf – English)
Track String Adapter Manual (ME-6569)
(994 KB – .pdf – English)
Experiment File
EX-5510 Conservation of
(12.7 MB – .zip – English)