The Collision Mania Simulation 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 a variety of collision types. A range of input parameters can be controlled to quickly determine their impact upon the collision. Numerical values for a variety of quantities (height, speed, energies, and momentum) can be viewed and utilized to analyze the essential principles that govern the collision of objects.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

This Interactive can be used at several times during a learning cycle on collisions, momentum conservation, and energy conservation. A visual menu is located in the top-right quarter of the simulation. Eight different physical scenarios are depicted there. Tapping on an option from this visual menu updates the scenario to be studied. The first two scenarios are classic one-dimensional collisions in which all pre- and post-collision vector quantities are directed horizontally. These make for a great warm-up for the scenarios displayed in the second and third rows. Those six scenarios involve collisions of a block with a stationary pendulum or collisions of a moving pendulum with a stationary block (or pendulum). 

Each scenario allows a user to modify a variety of relevant variables. Example variables include the masses of the two colliding objects and the elasticity of the collision. Collisions involving initially-moving blocks allow for variations in the block speed. And collisions involving initially-moving pendulum allow for variations in the string length and the bob height of the pendulum bob.

In addition to setting values for the independent variables, the values of the dependent variables can be observed. Speed and height information are reported in the simulation window. But a tap on the values button allows a user to view pre-collision and post-collision values for the height, speed, potential energy, kinetic energy, and momentum for both objects involved in the collision. All values are reported to two decimal places.

While the simulation is a great tool for analying momentum conservation for collisions, the inclusion of the pendulum as a colliding objects makes the energy aspect of the collisions. Energy and momentum values are given immediately after the collision. The subsequent changes in these values are displayed as the post-collision motion continues. 

We currently do not have any ready-to-use student activity sheets to complement this simulation. We hope to add some in the future, along with accompanying Concept Checkers. 


Related Resources

There are numerous resources at The Physics Classroom website that serve as very complementary supports for the Collision Mania Simulation. These include:
  • The Calculator Pad
    Our Calculator Pad tool is sourced with more than 2500 ready-to-use Physics word problems. Each problem contains randomized numbers, an answer field for inputting an answer, immediate feedback, and (often) problem-specific help. Our Momentum and Collisions section has three particularly applicable problem sets associated with elastic collisions and collisions between sliding blocks and swinging pendulum bobs. See Problem Sets MC11, MC12, and MC13 at The Calculator Pad.

  • 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. Four notable lab ideas include ...

    Before and After Lab
    Sand Balloon Lab
    Inelastic Collision Analysis
    Two-Dimensional Collision

    Visit The Laboratory.
  • Science Reasoning Activities:
    Science classrooms should be filled with reasoning activities. We have several interactive exercises in the Momentum and Collisions section of the Science Reasoning Center that will challenge students to employ close reading, data analysis, and logical reasoning. 

    Visit the Science Reasoning Center.

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



We owe a special thanks to Physics teacher Martin Kirby for donating the Collision Mania Simulation to our Interactives collection. Martin has contributed many other simulations to our Interactives collection. You can view them all by visiting our page listing all Martin Kirby Simulations. Or visit Martin's website ( to learn more.

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