The Collision Carts Interactive is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on smart phones, on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Interactive can be scaled to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with smart phones, iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom.

This Interactive is easy to use in order to analyze just about any type of collision or explosion. Different masses can be selected and velocities can easily be changed using the arrows. Collisions can be head-on collisions if the blue cart begins with a - velocity. The blue cart can also be dragged closer to the center of the track so that both carts are moving rightward and collide before reaching the end of the track.Use the Reset button before making any changes that will impact the next trial.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

This Interactive can be used at just about any stage of the learning cycle on collisions and momentum conservation. In fact, one might want to use it on several occasions - for inelastic collisions, elastic collisions, and explosions. 

The Physics Classroom has prepared two activities for use with this Interactive. The activities are titled Inelastic Collisions and Elastic Collisions. The activities are very similar to one another. As their name implies, one involves a study of inelastic collisions and the other of elastic collisions. In each activity, students analyze two different collisions in an effort to accumulate evidence to show that momentum is or is not conserved by a system of two colliding carts. As written, the Interactives are intended to be used near the beginning to middle of a learning cycle on momentum conservation in collisions. It would be useful to have covered what is meant by momentum conservation so that students are able to reasonably interpret their results. The Background section of the activity includes a few short sentences that succinctly explain momentum conservation. The activity sheet utilizes a before- and after-collision momentum table to assist students in organizing their calculated data. The activity makes a great pre-cursor to any hands-on activity as well as a good pre-cursor to problem-solving activities in which students use momentum conservation to predict the after-collision velocities of colliding objects.

Related Resources

There are numerous resources at The Physics Classroom website that serve as very complementary supports for the Collisions Carts Interactive. These include:
  • Minds On Physics Internet Modules:
    The Minds On Physics Internet Modules include a collection of interactive questioning modules that help learners assess their understanding of physics concepts and solidify those understandings by answering questions that require higher-order thinking. Assignments MC5, MC6, MC7, MC8, MC9, and MC10 of the Momentum and Collisions module provide great complements to this Interactive. They are best used in the middle to later stages of the learning cycle. Visit the Minds On Physics Internet Modules.

  • Animation: Numerous GIF Animations at The Multimedia Physics Studios
    The Momentum and Collisions section of the Multimedia Physics Studios has several instructive animations that depict the collisions of objects. Visit the Multimedia Physics Studios.

  • Curriculum/Practice: Several Concept Development worksheets at the Curriculum Corner will be very useful in assisting students in cultivating their understanding, most notably ...

    Action-Reaction and Momentum Conservation
    Collision Analysis

    Visit the Curriculum Corner.

  • Labwork: 
    Simulations should always support (never supplant) hands-on learning. The Laboratory section of The Physics Classroom website includes several hands-on ideas that complement this Interactive. Three notable lab ideas include ...

    Before and After Lab
    Sand Balloon Lab
    Inelastic Collision Analysis

    Visit The Laboratory.
  • Science Reasoning Activities:
    Science classrooms should be filled with reasoning activities. There is one related activity in the Momentum and Collisions section of the Science Reasoning Center that will challenge students to employ close reading, data analysis, and logical reasoning. The activities are named ...


    Visit the Science Reasoning Center.

Additional resources and ideas for incorporating the Collisions Carts Interactive into an instructional unit on collisions can be found at the Teacher Toolkits section of The Physics Classroom website.  Visit Teacher Toolkits.



The Physics Classroom would like to extend a special thanks to Nerd Island Studios for the creation of this HTML5 Interactive. Visit their website ( to see more great stuff by Nerd Island Studios.



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