How to use a ballistic pendulum to teach velocity, momentum, and projectile motion.

High School

It all started when a farmer fired a bullet into a hanging log to calculate the velocity in which his muzzle loader fired a shot. By measuring the height of the log as it was projected forward by the bullet, he determined the kinetic energy gained by the log, and worked backwards to find the velocity of the bullet. 

Luckily, you won't need a hanging log or a muzzle loader for this activity, because this apparatus lets you re-create the same experiment (and more) in your classroom - no  firearms or splinters required. 

In this video, we'll show you how to re-create this classic physics demonstration in your classroom using a ballistic pendulum apparatus, and offer tips and ideas for a variety of activities you can do with your students.

Learn how to use this innovative projectile motion apparatus to design repeatable experiments in your physics classroom and cover a variety of topics with one piece of equipment, including:

  • Conservation of energy
  • Conservation of angular momentum
  • Projectile motion
  • Velocity
  • And more!

We'll show you how to adjust the apparatus to use it as a rigid arm pendulum, a horizontal projectile launcher, or a complex projectile launcher. 

Ready, aim, launch! 

Get the launcher



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