Air Track Collisions Lab

version 1.1.0 (1.44 MB) by Emma Smith Zbarsky
Interactive courseware module that addresses one-dimensional collisions using a virtual air track model.


Updated 10 Sep 2021

From GitHub

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Air Track Collisions Lab View Air Track Collisions Lab

Curriculum Module
Created with R2021a. Compatible with R2021a and later releases.


This curriculum module contains a Simscape Multibody™ model and live scripts that explore one-dimensional collisions using a virtual air track. The air track can be configured to model elastic or inelastic collisions. The live scripts contain instructions for conducting experiments using the virtual air track. The instructions include theory, pre-lab, virtual experiment, and data analysis sections. The law of conservation of momentum is studied by simulating elastic and inelastic collisions. The law of conservation of energy is studied by attaching a hanging mass to one of the carts.

Get started with the Air Track Collisions Lab by downloading and unzipping the repository. Then, double-click the project .prj file inside MATLAB®. From there, you can follow the landing page instructions to get started with the lab.

Learning Goals

  • Compare inelastic and elastic collisions.
  • Use conservation laws to predict motion after collision.
  • Measure the velocities of carts using photogate readings.
  • Compute momentum and energy from experimental observations.
  • Assess conservation of momentum.
  • Assess conservation of energy.


A Simscape Multibody model that simulates collisions on an air track. A description of how to use the model can be found in airTrackLab_04_Explore_Virtual_Lab.mlx.

A folder that contains the live script instructions for the virtual experiment. The live scripts include theory, pre-lab questions, a guide to the virtual experiment, and data analysis.

CAD/ Images/
STLs and images used by the Simscape Multibody models.


MATLAB, Simscape™, Simscape Multibody


The license for this module is available in the LICENSE.TXT file in this GitHub repository.

Educator Resources

Have any questions or feedback? Contact the MathWorks online teaching team.

Copyright 2021 The MathWorks, Inc.

Cite As

Emma Smith Zbarsky (2022). Air Track Collisions Lab (, GitHub. Retrieved .

MATLAB Release Compatibility
Created with R2021a
Compatible with R2021a and later releases
Platform Compatibility
Windows macOS Linux
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To view or report issues in this GitHub add-on, visit the GitHub Repository.
To view or report issues in this GitHub add-on, visit the GitHub Repository.