What ideas do students have about momentum?

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Episode 301: Baton Seattle Pacific University

Research suggests that students have many productive ideas about momentum, and with appropriate support can build a sophisticated model. Some common ideas that come naturally to many students are that momentum can transfer from one object to another and that momentum transfer has to do with the strength of an impact. What other ideas do students have about momentum?

July 2, 2018

Pedagogy Content
Attending to student ideas
Physics Content
Instructor Interaction

Lesson Contents (5 MB)Student Handout
Transcript, discussion questions, and problem

(2 MB)Specific Lesson Guide
Facilitator's guide for this lesson

(1 MB)General Facilitator's Guide
Background and best practices

(266 MB)Video
Captioned video


Sample Discussion Prompts

  1. What did you observe in this episode? Talk to your partners about what you saw.

  2. Carmen says, “Your momentum of your initial, A, has to be the final movement of the whole system” (line 1). How would you interpret this statement? Is it consistent with the law of conservation of momentum?

  3. Carmen makes an analogy about a baton. What does the baton represent in this analogy?

  4. What point is Carmen making by comparing a momentum-related quantity to a baton?

  5. Brittany says she is “thinking with numbers” (line 11). What ideas about momentum are embedded in this approach?

  6. What are some ideas that students have about momentum?


Collections featuring this lesson

Student ideas14 LESSONS

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