Mechanical energy analysis of a boomerang mechanism

C. Álvarez-Macías, L. Salgado-Conrado, J. De la Cuz Canul, and M. Rivero Corona


In this paper, we present a comparison of classical theory with video analysis techniques to teach kinetic and potential energy of a device with a boomerang effect as an observable and measurable concept. The device can store energy through an elastic band when it rolls down
an inclined plane and can release the energy when it rolls on a horizontal surface; hence, the name Boomerang. In theoretical terms, the details of energy charge and discharge processes are analysed with Newton’s laws and Lagrangian method. The experimental results were recorded with cell phone cameras and processed with an open-source video analysis software, called ’Tracker’. The comparison shows relevant concepts about kinetic and potential energy, which can help the student to overcome some of the typical student misconceptions.


Boomerang; Energy conservation; Lagrange equations; Newton’s laws; Harmonic movement

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Revista Mexicana de Física E

ISSN: 2683-2216 (on line), 1870-3542 (print)

Semiannual publication of Sociedad Mexicana de Física, A.C.
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