Multiple representations are a valuable tool to help students learn and understand physics concepts. Furthermore, representations help students learn how to think and act like real scientists. These representations include: pictures, free‐body diagrams, energy bar charts, electrical circuits, and, more recently, computer simulations and animations. However, instructors have limited choices when they want to help their students understand impulse and momentum. One of the only available options is the impulse‐momentum bar chart. The bar charts can effectively show the magnitude of the momentum as well as help students understand conservation of momentum, but they do not easily show the actual direction. This paper highlights a new representation instructors can use to help their students with momentum and impulse—the impulse‐momentum diagram (IMD).
The Physics Teacher
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Rosengrant D. 2011. Impulse-momentum diagrams. Phys Teach 49(1):36-9.