Matchbox Car Collision

Type: Investigation

Theme: Physics

Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Learning Target: Students will calculate marble acceleration on a ramp through a regression while determining the parent graph for impact data.


matchbox car collisionThis project is for groups of two. All measurements are in meters.

  1. Measure the length of the ramp in meters.
  2. Measure acceleration of the marble at a selected height (your choice).
    1. Take video of marble with meter stick behind marble on ramp.
    2. Build spreadsheet of time vs. distance data of the marble using video data.
    3. Regress the time and distance data. In Desmos, use:
  3. Graph collision data at different heights.
    1. Measure the height (meters) for test.
    2. Release the marble at the top of the ramp.
    3. Measure the distance the car moved.
    4. Use trigonometry to determine the ramp angle.
    5. Graph the data (x=angle, y=distance car moved)
    6. Repeat for a minimum of 10 different heights.
    7. Choose the best parent equation that fits the model (linear, exponential, quadratic, or logarithmic) and regress your data with it (example).
  4. Take photos of your group working together.
  5. Obtain and provide a Peer Review.


Submit as a web page (do not include video).

  1. Acceleration of marble. Include a-value and angle (acceleration should be in meters per second squared).
  2. Acceleration graph with regression
  3. Spreadsheet with collision data
  4. Collision scatterplot with regression
  5. Questions:
    1. Describe the impact data. What do you notice?
    2. Why did you choose your parent equation?
    3. Would collecting more data have been beneficial? Why or why not? 
  6. Peer Review


Exit Ticket
CCSS Math Practice
  • I can construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
NGSS Crosscutting Concepts
  • Systems and System Models
  • Stability and Change