[Physics] How to measure force of impact inside container


I am in 7th grade and for my science fair project, I need a way to measure the force on a dropped object when it hits the ground. What I am trying to determine is which packing materials provide the best protection for an object in a collision. So I am planning on dropping containers filled with different packing materials surrounding some sort of force-measuring device in the middle. But I don't know how to either obtain or construct the force-measuring device.

Because I am measuring the effectiveness of the packing material, I need to measure the force inside. One method I thought about was having a metal ball sitting on top of clay. After hitting the ground, the ball will dig into the clay. I can measure how deep the impact is and assume that the deeper the hole, the greater the force. But I am not sure if this will work.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to measure force (using either my idea or something else entirely)?

Best Answer

That sounds like an excellent idea.
You could also test the idea of how deep it goes into the clay by dropping a ball from different heights and see if twice the height = twice the depth into the clay.

Shipping stores sell shock indicators which are little plastic tubes with paint in them that will change color at a certain shock level - but your plan to make the shock sensor yourself would be a better way of showing a physical principle at work.

Good luck.