Students can be discouraged from exploring fields like Physics and Mathematics due to the fact they cannot easily understand the connections and relevance between key concepts they are learning in these fields and the activities which they enjoy daily. The demonstration, “Air Hockey: A Demonstration in momentum” seeks to address this concern by making connections between curricular concepts like momentum, impulse, and conservation during collisions with activities, namely sports, that play an active role in students’ lives. Applications of this demonstration go well beyond the classroom, and curriculum and are applicable to many real-world situations.

     The demonstration consists of five parts:

1.   A collision of a puck and a wall

2.   A collision of a moving and a stationary puck

3.   A collision of two moving pucks

4.   A collision of two moving pucks that stick to form one body

5.   A collision of a moving puck and a stationary puck where the pucks collide and stick to form one body

Example of video analysis during demonstration of two moving pucks colliding and sticking:

Example of a demonstration and analysis for two moving pucks colliding 

What to expect

     In addition to exploring, visually, concepts like momentum and energy conservation students should see how the concepts covered in the demonstration are directly related to daily activities like driving, sports, and hobbies. Moreover, students will end the lesson by communicating their understanding of the concepts by working together to answer open ended questions such as, “In what ways is this an open system? What impact do losses of energy to the environment have on the way we understand conservation? Can any real system ever be fully closed and isolated?”

Example of lesson materials from Slides:


By the end of the demonstration, lesson, and worksheet students should gain valuable knowledge about momentum, energy, conservation, and collisions. The students should understand how concepts taught in physics are integral to understanding and describing the world around them and fully see the correlation between momentum and the activities they enjoy every day. Students should leave the demonstration feeling excited to consider complex questions and feel motivated to pursue physics and mathematics education as the key to unlocking the answers to these questions. It is my hope that every student who participates in this demonstration will see that physics and society are unquestionably linked and the only way to describe the natural world is to consider it from a scientific perspective.