MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Mystery of Motion: Momentum, Kinetic Energy and Their Conversion

Pervez Hoodbhoy
Chairman, Department of Physics
Quaid-e-Azam University
Islamabad, Pakistan

In this video lesson, the concept of momentum applied to hard-body collisions is explained using a number of simple demonstrations, all of which can be repeated in the classroom. Understanding Newton's Laws is fundamental to all of physics, and this lesson introduces the vital concepts of momentum and energy, and their conservation. Only some preliminary ideas of algebra are used here, and all the concepts presented can be found in any high-school level physics book. In terms of materials required, getting hold of large steel balls may not be easy, but large ball bearings can be procured easily. On the basis of what students have learned in the video, teachers can easily generate a large number of questions that relate to one's daily experiences, or which pose new challenges: for example, in a collision between a heavy and light vehicle, why do those inside the heavier one suffer less injury?



Pervez Hoodbhoy received his PhD in nuclear physics from MIT. His research interests lie in high energy physics, particularly in the areas of quantum chromodynamics and physics in many dimensional spaces. He has produced several series of documentary programs in Urdu aimed at popularizing science in Pakistan.

This site, sponsored by Teach Engineering: Resources for K-12, presents a lesson plan where students examine how different balls react when colliding with different surfaces. Students will have plenty of opportunity to learn how to calculate momentum and understand the principle of conservation of momentum.

At this site, sponsored by the Physics, the topic, Dynamics: Forces and Motion, is broken into units to help in formulating cohesive, effective lessons.

This video lecture, presented by MIT Professor Walter Lewin, is all about Newton's First (inertia), Second (F=ma) and Third (action=-reaction) Laws.

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This Lesson is in the following clusters: Newtonian Physics