The Momentum Concept Builder 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.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

This Concept Builder is intended for use in the earlier stages of a learning cycle on Momentum and Collisions. It makes for an exceptional formative assessment of student understanding of the momentum concept. The emphasis is on understanding that the magnitude of the momentum vector depends upon mass and velocity and the direction of the momentum vector depends soley upon the direction that the object is moving. 

This Concept Builder was intended as an in-class activity. The Concept Builder includes 43 different questions organized into 12 different Question Groups spread across three different activities. Teachers using the Concept Builder with their classes should preview the activity (or view the Questions in the separate file) in order to judge which activities would be most appropriate for their students. Our summary of the three activities is as follows:
  • What's Happening With Momentum: The qualitative dependence of momentum upon mass and velocity is probed as students look for important clues in a verbal statement that would indicate whether the momentum value is increasing, decreasing, or remaining the same. Includeds four Question Groups.
  • Getting Direction on Acceleration: The quantitative dependence of momentum upon mass and velocity is emphasized as students compute momentum of three objects in order to determine rank the momentum of the three objects from greatest to least. Includeds four Question Groups.
  • Getting Direction on Momentum: Students read a short verbal statement of an object's motion and make a decision about the direction of the momentum vector. Includes four Question Groups.

In order to complete an activity, a student must correctly analyze each situation at that level. If a student's answer is incorrect, then the student will have to correctly answer the same or very similar question twice in order to successfully complete the activity. This approach provides the student extra practice on situations for which they exhibited difficulty. As a student progresses through an activity, a system of stars and other indicators are used to indicate progress on the activity. A star is an indicator of correctly analyzing the situation. Once a star is earned, that situation is removed from the cue of situations to be analyzed. Each situation is color-coded with either a yellow or a red box. A red box indicates that the student has incorrectly analyzed the situation and will have to correctly analyze it twice before earning a star. A yellow box is an indicator that the situation must be correctly analyzed one time in order to earn a star. Once every situation for an activity has been successfully analyzed, the student earns a trophy that is displayed on the Main Menu. This system of stars and trophy allows a teacher to easily check-off student progress or offer credit for completing assigned activities.

The most valuable (and most overlooked) aspect of this concept-building tool is the Help Me! feature. Each question group is accompanied by a Help page that discusses the specifics of the question. This Help feature transforms the Concept Builder from a question-answering activity into a concept-building activity. The student who takes the time to use the Help pages can be transformed from a guesser to a learner and from an unsure student to a confident student. The "meat and potatoes" of the Help pages are in the sections titled "How to Think About This Situation:" Students need to be encouraged by teachers to use the Help Me! button and to read this section of the page. A student that takes time to reflect upon how they are answering the question and how an expert would think about the situation can transform their naivete into expertise. 


Related Resources

There are numerous resources at The Physics Classroom website that serve as very complementary supports for the Momentum Concept Builder. 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 MC1, MC2, and MC3 from the Momentum and Collisions module make for a great complement to this Concept Builder. They are best used in the middle to later stages of the learning cycle. Visit the Minds On Physics Internet Modules.

    Users may find that the App version of Minds On Physics works best on their devices. The App Version can be found at the Minds On Physics the App section of our website. The Momentum and Collisions module can be found on Part 3 of the six-part App series. Visit Minds On Physics the App.

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

    Momentum, Impulse and Momentum Change
    Controlling a Collision
    Simple Computation with Impulse = Momentum Change

    Visit the Curriculum Corner - Momentum.

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