Category Archives: Momentum

Unit 3: Momentum Transfer Unit

This third unit on the MTM is the first significant deviation from the traditional modeling framework. I expect it to take approximately two weeks. It will begin with two carts “exploding” apart and whiteboard meetings to analyze the results (ratio of masses of carts -> ratio of velocities of carts).

From there they will proceed through some of the modeling materials for the Momentum Transfer Model as provided by the Modeling Materials. The main focus of the unit will be that momentum is a quantity that is swapped between objects, depicting those swaps with “interaction diagrams” (formally called system schema) (labels of types of forces withheld during this unit), and momentum diagrams (IF charts). Also along the way, I will try to emphasize the similarity between displacement (being term for a change in position) and impulse (being the term for change in momentum).

The first worksheet is the same as the first worksheet from the Modeling Materials. It looks at mainly qualitative events and has the students determine relative momenta or impulses. We then look numerous collisions to see if momentum is conserved in collisions as well as the explosions seen in the lab.  We skip the second worksheet provided by the Modeling Materials, as most of these problems focus on calculating impulses from Force & time. These types of problems will be address later in the UFPM unit.   The new second and third worksheets use momentum diagrams to solve collision problems. We end with additional problems for review.

The students goals for this unit are:


  1. create an interaction diagram including the identification of the system.
  2. create a momentum diagram (IF diagram) for an event.
  3. interpret a momentum diagram by creating a mathematical model of an event.
  4. correctly solve problems involving an exchange of momentum.