PhysicsLAB Lab
Video Lab: M&M Collides with Pop Can

This lab is based on a Direct Measurement Video called M&M Colliding with Pop Can released on the Science Education Research Center (SERC) website. The copyright for this video belongs to Independent School District 197 in Mendota Heights MN. The project is partially funded by a National Science Foundation Grant (#1245268) awarded in September 2013.

The following lab directions were designed for use in my Honors Physics I class and only represent one method of analyzing the data provided in the video.

By using the data from the video, you will be able to calculate the momentum of the M&M and pop can both before and after a collision. Then we will discuss conservation of momentum and any changes in KE during the collision. But, before taking any measurements, you should view the video several times to acquaint yourself with its scenario.
 
Data stated on the video:
  • mass of the can equals 13.0 ± 0.1 grams
  • mass of the M&M equals 2.3 ± 0.1 grams
  • recording frame rate equals 960 frames/second.
 
Refer to the following information for the next seven questions.

During the first frames of the video, an M&M is blown out of a pneumatic tube and travels across the screen to collide with a stationary can of Coke. On frames-5 the right side of the M&M is barely visible as it start to emerge from the tube.
 
 
 
Based on the graph shown above, how far does the M&M travel between frames-5 and frames-4? 

Based on the graph shown above, how far does the M&M travel between frames-4 and frames-3? 

Based on the graph shown above, how far does the M&M travel between frames-3 and frames-2? 

What was the average value of the distance traveled by the M&M during each frame progression? 

What was the M&M's average speed before it struck the Coke can? 

What was the M&M's momentum before it struck the Coke can? 

What was the M&M's KE before it struck the Coke can? 

Refer to the following information for the next four questions.

In the next section, the M&M strikes the can, drills through the can, flies off the screen by itself followed by the can also flying off by itself.
On frames+0, the M&M emerges from the can. On which frame is the leading edge of the M&M at 29 cm? 

What was the M&M's average speed after it emerges from its collision with the Coke can? 

On frames+14, the Coke can's center of mass (yellow circle) is completely off the table. On which frame was the can's center of mass at 28 cm? 

What was the can's average speed after it leaves the table? 

Refer to the following information for the next six questions.

Now you will examine the momenta of the M&M and Coke can after the collision.
 
What was the M&M's momentum after its collision with the Coke can? 

What was the M&M's KE after its collision with the Coke can? 

What was the Coke can's momentum after the collision with the M&M? 

What was the Coke can's KE after the collision with the M&M? 

What was the total momentum of the "M&M and Coke can" system after the collision? 

What was the total KE of both the "M&M and Coke can" together after the collision? 

Refer to the following information for the next six questions.

Conclusions
Do your answers for the total momentum of the "M&M and Coke can" system before the collision and the total momentum of the "M&M and Coke can" system after the collision verify that momentum was conserved in this collision?
 
Support your choice in the previous question. 

What is the percent difference between the total momentum in the system before the collision and the total momentum in the system after the collision? 

What percentage of the M&M's original KE was lost during the collision? 

Was this collision elastic or inelastic? 

What impulse did the Coke can give to the M&M in this collision? 





Direct Measurement Video Project
Peter Bohacek
Copyright © 2013-2017
All rights reserved.
Used with permission.
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Lab Implementation
Copyright © 2014-2017
Catharine H. Colwell
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