Acceleration Force and Mass

Students love fast moving experiments, but higher speeds often require higher technology. That can challenge the budget and students’ ability to use the technology. These simple, but highly accurate photogates remove both barriers. No costly computers are needed, and set up is easy. Students literally ‘get up to speed’ fast!

Using the Timer & Photogates in the Classroom!

Arbor Scientific’s photogates are highly effective for use in multiple experiments, including measuring acceleration and exploring projectile motion and Conservation of Momentum. Here are two examples:

Acceleration: The Timer & Photogate system is perfect for measuring the acceleration of an object. This typically requires students to measure the time for the object to pass through each of the two photogates, plus the time to travel between them. The way that these values are displayed on the timer makes it easy for students to capture the data.

Conservation of Momentum: Experiments with Conservation of Momentum typically involve determining the speeds of two colliding objects, both before and after the collision. Using the timer memory feature, students can use the photogate system to obtain all four time values with precise accuracy. As an example of how they can be used, the teacher challenges students to use the photo-timer system with gliders on an air track and come up with an experiment that confirms Conservation of Momentum.


Required Equipment


Stephen Rea has been teaching physics and honors physics at both the high school and college level since 1980. Currently at the University of Michigan, Dearborn, he was the Michigan State Science Teacher of the year in 1994.

Collin Wassilak

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