Carts and Car Crashes



The activity is intended for use in an algebra-based physics class once the momentum concept and conservation of momentum in collisions is developed. Prior to starting this activity, students should have made connections between the change in momentum of an object and the impulse on an object. This activity develops impulse and momentum concepts as an area model (integral) on a force vs time graph. Students will also develop their ability to interpret diagrammatic and graphical models and make inferences based on those models, and make connections across different models to illustrate the relationship between momentum, force, time, and impulse. The first three models are a learning cycle and the second two are an application of those concepts. This activity could be split into two separate class-meetings to be used as a learning cycle activity in one class and an application activity in the other.

Level: Algebra-based Physics

Setting: Classroom

Activity Type: Learning Cycle & Application

Discipline: Physics

Course: Intro Physics I (Algebra-based)

Keywords: Impulse, Momentum, Force

Author Biography

Andrew Totah-McCarty

Andrew creates free, publicly available Physics curricula to help teachers and students around the world have access to quality learning experiences. He focuses on using constructivist pedagogy to guide students to create a model-based understanding of physics content. He co-created Phenomena First to share these curricular resources with a broader audience. Andrew taught high school Physics for 7 years and currently manages project-based instruction at Summit Public Schools and teaches an introductory Physics course at San Jose State University. He also coaches new science teachers through the Exploratorium Leadership Institute. He is a Senior Fellow in the Knowles Teacher Initiative (2012 cohort).

ToC: Image of a Fan Cart Moving on a Graph




How to Cite

Totah-McCarty, A. (2024). Carts and Car Crashes. POGIL Activity Clearinghouse, 4(2). Retrieved from



Activities for Review