Is Total Momentum Conserved When Two Pucks Collide on an Air Hockey Table?

This experiment was done to find out whether or not total momentum would be conserved in a collision between two pucks on an air hockey table. We had an air hockey table set up with a camera suspended above it. We also built a ramp by which we could launch the puck consistently into the other, stationary, puck. The camera took a video of the collision from above then this video was transferred onto the computer for analysis with the videopoint software. We did a percent difference for our analysis to see if momentum was completely conserved.We were able to determine that we could not reproduce a collision in which momentum was completely conserved, rather that there was some error in most of our trials. Some of the pucks momentum must have been dissipated through other forces such as friction into the table instead of being transferred directly into the puck. Our data makes sense with what we know about collisions, and how momentum is transferred into other surrounding forces. The instruments we used including the videopoint software allowed us to accurately monitor the pucks velocity, but we believe the air hockey table was not to the best of standards, and the surface of the table created friction that affected our experiment. We did discover that use of the videopoint software enabled us to accurately get the momentum of objects through a video.

Research Done By:

Dan Leader
Sterling Heights High School

Phil McKenna
L'Anse Creuse North