Hands-on at this exhibit

  • Test your reactions
  • See how the Police use science to discover what happened in a road collision
  • Put your equations of motion to the test

“When will we ever use these equations of motion?” Lockerbie Academy students participated in a project to answer this question in a relevant and exciting way, and learned some vital road safety skills on the way. Working with Crash Test Investigators from Police Scotland, students produced scale models of simulated road crashes based on real crashes. Using mathematics and physics principles, they had to determine the cause of the accident and if crimes had been committed. This exhibit has been funded by a Royal Society Partnership Grant and by the Radcliffe Trust.

Crash investigation is concerned with the way vehicles behave before, during and after a crash. The role of a crash investigator is to reconstruct the crash as much as they can from the marks and other physical evidence left at the scene.

In order to carry out an effective reconstruction the crash investigator must have an in depth knowledge of a number of equations of motion together with the laws of physics and how these can be used to calculate vehicle speeds and behaviour. Investigators apply the scientific methods of planning, observation, measurements, results, conclusion and evaluation.

The science used by crash investigators on a regular basis is a great example of applications of mathematics and physics, and how they are used in real life.