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Large Open Area Required
The Laws of Motion

Suggested Grade Level(s): 6, 7

Content Standard(s):

  • 6 - Science / Social Studies
    • NS.5-8.2:
      Physical Science
  • 7 - Science / Social Studies
    • NS.5-8.2:
      Physical Science

Purpose of Activity (objectives, etc.):

Students will understand Newton's Three Laws of Motion

Description:

  1. Pair up students. You will need a bout 6 sqft around each pair of students to perform this activity. Emphasize personal space safety
  2. Have each pair of students sit back-to-back, linking their arms at the elbows. Emphasize safe movements when working with partners (one doesn't try to jerk the other around, etc.)
  3. Ask the students to attempt to stand up without unlocking their elbows. Question: How hard was it to stand up? Would it have been easier to remain sitting? - This is the first law. "An object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. Question: Have you ever tried to stop a friend running past you? Was it hard to slow them down to a stop without moving?
  4. For the second law - Question: When you were trying to stand up, who had to work harder, the smaller or larger partner (you can use taller / shorter)? Test it. Have them sit back down and think about who is working harder? The second law states that force equals mass (size of the person) times acceleration (push). So the smaller has to work harder.
  5. The third law: Ask students which way they had to push their feet to stand up? Some will answer "up". Ask the class to sit down and both partners put their feet up in the air and push "up". They can't stand. Point out that the students must push down to stand. Third law - For every action, there is an equal or opposite reaction. The partners pushed their feet down and they caused the body to raise up.
  6. Finally ask them if they pushed in any other direction. Some will say they pushed back against the back of the partner. Why didn't you fall down? Because the partner was pushing equally in the opposite direction.

Time:

10 minutes

Source: