Collisions: Elastic and inelastic forces

Join Dr. One and Isaac Newton at the pool table to learn about momentum conservation and elastic and inelastic collisions.

  • High School
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About This Simulation

Brace for impact! In this simulation, you will learn how to use momentum conservation to predict the outcome of a collision, and demonstrate how momentum is conserved in elastic and inelastic collisions. 

Help Newton improve his pool

Isaac Newton is a great physicist, but he still has plenty to learn as a pool player. Students will help Newton apply his knowledge of momentum conservation, kinetic energy, and elastic and inelastic collisions to improve his pool skills. After finding out about the elements of energy and momentum conservation in collisions, students will solve puzzles that allow them to demonstrate momentum conservation and prove their knowledge of the topic.

Trigger collisions between billiard balls

Students will produce collisions between balls with different properties in a wide range of scenarios. These include balls that produce elastic collisions, balls that produce completely inelastic collisions, and balls that have different masses, materials, and initial velocities.

The parameters of the collision, including mass, velocity, and momentum of each ball are displayed in real time, allowing the student to observe the conservation of total momentum in each collision. 

The student is presented with a sequence of scenarios that increasingly build complexity and skill, starting from observation and culminating in informed decision-making in which the student will apply their newly acquired knowledge on momentum conservation.

Solve puzzles about momentum conservation

In the end, you will apply your knowledge of momentum conservation and elastic and inelastic collisions to produce collisions and solve puzzles. Will you run the table in this match?

Explore Collisions: Elastic and inelastic forces Virtual Lab Simulation

A wide-angle view of the room used in the Collisions simulation. There is a billiard table in the center where collisions will take place. Dr. One is in front of the camera, and Isaac Newton is on the side.
The moment right after the impact of between two billiard balls. The values of the masses, velocities, and momenta of the billiard balls are displayed on the upper part of the screen.
Open menus to set the initial velocity and the mass of a cue ball. The ball will start moving after the user presses the 'READY' button and eventually collide with another billiard ball. The parameters of the motion of the two balls will be displayed in real-time in the upper part of the screen.
Two billiard balls are moving towards the cue ball. One of them produces an elastic collision and the other an inelastic collision.  The user is able to select the cue ball's velocity and direction to have one of the balls reach the target zones signaled with a hologram.

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