bowling alley


Hands-on activity to encourage students with visual impairments to explore the law of conservation of momentum.


To encourage students with visual impairments to explore the law of conservation of momentum

Background Information:

Using a wooden set of bowling balls and pins or on a trip to the bowling alley, students with a visual impairment can hear the results of a bowling ball’s momentum.  All students can participate in this activity. When one moving object collides with another moving object, the motion of both objects changes.  For example, when a bowling ball strikes the pins, the bowling ball slows down.  It loses momentum.  The pins move.  The pins gain momentum.  The important thing to remember is that the TOTAL momentum of the ball and the pins remains the same.  In any isolated system, momentum can be transferred but CANNOT be lost.  This is the law of conservation of momentum.


Wooden bowling balls and pins


Set up a classroom bowling alley.  Guides (boards) on the edges of a table decrease the chances of gutter balls.

  1. Take turns bowling with a weak force.  Notice that even a weak force makes the ball knock into a pin and makes it wobble.  The energy from the ball is transferred into the pins. 
  2. Try again with a much stronger force and show that more energy is transferred into the pins as some may fall over or even get pushed off the table.  
  3. Discuss how the energy in the ball is changed to other types of energy including sound. 


Article and activity adapted from Concepts and Challenges: Physical Science, Fourth Edition. Parsippany, NJ: Globe Fearon Inc., Pearson Learning Group, 2003 and 2009, pages 276 and 277.

This activity was created by Michele Engelbrecht and Kate Fraser.

Collage of momentum activity

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