Pedagogy in Action > Library > Just in Time Teaching > Example JiTT WarmUp Exercises > Angular Momentum Experiment

Angular Momentum Experiment

Dave Trapp,
developed as an addition to existing directions for studying momenta
Author Profile

This activity has benefited from input through a review and suggestion process.

This activity has benefited from input from faculty educators beyond the author through a review and suggestion process as a part of an activity development workshop. Workshop participants were provided with a set of criteria against which they evaluated each others' activities. For information about the criteria used for this review, see

This page first made public: Jul 29, 2007

This material was originally developed through comPADRE
as part of its collaboration with the SERC Pedagogic Service.


Albert Einstein on a Bicycle
After reading about the historical development of concepts of conserved motion, students are directed to a series of activities to gain a better understanding of momentum, conservation of momenta, angular momentum, and conservation of angular momenta.

Learning Goals

The student will be able to
  1. distinguish angular momentum from linear momentum,
  2. have an initial understanding of the value of the concept of angular momentum,
  3. know the basic formula for determining angular momentum, and
  4. have a basic familiarity with precession.

Context for Use

Educational level: introductory
Setting: may be used for independent study either as a part of a full study of introductory physics or as a single lesson. It could also be assigned for use from a introductory physics classroom setting.
Time required: Roughly 1/2 hour
Special equipment: bicycle
Pre-requisite knowledge: understanding of linear momentum or having done proceeding laboratory directions.

Description and Teaching Materials

The full experiment is available at which is part of

Directions and needed introductory written materials are all included in the web page. A bicycle, protective riding gear, and a safe open space is needed to conduct the new part of the activity.

No additional textual materials need to be accessed except the activity web page. Students either independently or at teacher direction access the web activity page, following the directions there, recording their findings in a journal, and complete the assignment by drafting a formal laboratory report as necessary.

Teaching Notes and Tips

Setup and Instructions are included on the web page

The activity is designed for independent study by a student. It was not intended to need any teacher provided directions. However is it is modified for use by a class of students, the instructor should consider what additional directions are pertinent as a result of the modification.


It is intended for a student maintain a journal of all experiments performed. If the student desires credit for her or his work, the directions recommend preparing a formal written report based on the criteria at