• definition
  • principle of conservation of momentum
  • calculations for one-dimensional problems

For many students, calculations of momentum and impulse will have been the most challenging encountered during GCSE. By A level it is hoped that they have a much clearer understanding of force, energy and motion but for many previous difficulties may cause anxiety. It is worth ensuring students can correctly place momentum in the context of other physical properties; units in particular can cause some difficulties. The resources listed offer one route that might be useful to consider.

It starts with some review material and progresses to quantitative experiments that students can use to check predicted changes in momentum. A distinction between perfectly elastic momentum changes - where no external forces act and there is no shift from kinetic energy to other stores - and inelastic collisions, which might involve chemical explosions or permanent shape changes.

The use of simulations is discussed and there are links to practice questions that might be useful. Discussion of causes and effects - often in the form of a flow chart - can help students understand the ideas and then describe them verbally. Thorough practice and a methodical approach to problems set in class are, for most students, the best way to achieve familiarity with the quantitative problems they will encounter in exams.

Whilst this list provides a source of information and ideas for experimental work, it is important to note that recommendations can date very quickly. Do NOT follow suggestions which conflict with current advice from CLEAPSS or recent safety guides. eLibrary users are responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is consistent with current regulations related to Health and Safety and that they carry an appropriate risk assessment. Further information is provided in our Health and Safety guidance.