Newton's 2nd Law: Paper Clip Racers - Newton's Law Expo (7 of 9)
Lesson 7 of 12
Objective: Students will be able to prove Newton's 2nd Law of Motion by racing paper clips.
This lesson is based on California's Middle School Integrated Model of NGSS.
MS-PS2 Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
PE: MS-PS2-2 - Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object's motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.
DCI: PS2.A - The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; If the total force the object is not zero, its motion will change (Newton's 1st Law). The greater the mass of the object the greater the force needed to achieve that same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion (Newton's 2nd Law).
Science and Engineering Practices 7: Engaging in Arguments from Evidence
Crosscutting Concept: Cause and Effect
This activity can be used as a stand alone lesson or can be placed with eight other lessons, designed as an exposition to be experienced over three days.
Newton's Laws Expo contains:
- Coin Activity (1st Law)
- Hammer/Nail Activity (1st Law)
- Greek Waiter Tray (1st Law)
- Penny on a Coat Hanger (1st Law)
- Ping Pong Ball Activity (2nd Law)
- Balloon Racer (2nd Law)
- Paper Clip Racer (2nd Law) (this lesson)
- Skateboard Activity (3rd Law)
- Newton's Cradle (3rd Law)
I have also developed three demonstrations of Newton's Laws
In this lesson, students engage in a short (eight minute) activity designed to demonstrate one of Newton's Laws. Large paper clips are dragged across a desk by a weight hanging off the end of the desk on a string (MS-PS2-2). The additional weights will not be seen as mass (m), but rather, increased force (F) (PS2.A). It will be the student's responsibility to use evidence recorded during the activity to determine that Newton's 2nd Law is being expressed, demonstrating the relationship between force (F), mass (m), and acceleration (a) (SP7). Each activity has been carefully chosen to replicate a specific effect (CCC).
- Large paper clips
Print out a copy of Station Markers. Tape 'Station 7' marker card down to the desk where you intend students will conduct this activity. Each station marker identifies where the activity will take place and provides directions for completing the activity.
Print out a copy of Newton's Laws Exposition packet for each student. The packet includes directions and questions to answer. If you are performing this lesson as a single activity you will only need to print out Activity 7.
This activity is designed to accompany other Newton's Laws Activities. I run this unit as a three day exposition. Day 1 is reserved for showing all the students the nine activities. Days 2 and 3 allow for an eight minute rotation. I typically have my students experience five activities (40 minutes) on Day 2 and four activities (32 minutes) on Day 3 followed by a recap of the events.
Newton's Second Law will be in effect for this lesson. Newton's Second Law states that acceleration (a) is based upon force (F) applied to the object and the mass (m) of the object. A change in force or mass will change the object's acceleration. This law can be summed by the formula F=ma (Force = mass X acceleration).
Students do not know what specific law of motion they will be experimenting with. They have to record what they see, gather evidence, and argue about what law is being manipulated.
TIP: Adding additional paper clips should be considered an increase in force and not an increase in mass.
- Tie a paper clip to each end of a long string.
- Hook two more paper clips to one end.
- Place the single paper clip end in the center of the table.
- Hang the three paper clip end off the side of the table.
- Release the paper clips and record your observations.
- Add one more paper clip to the hanging end, repeat the experiment, and record your observations.
- Place as many paper clips of your choosing on one end, repeat the experiment, and record your observations.
Student Work Sample
Newton's Law are expressed in a multitude of ways in the English language because Newton's original text ' Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica', often referred to as the 'Principia', was written in Latin (as were all scientific articles in that time) and translated into English. As such, there are many different translations, causing confusion with students.
I teach Newton's Three Laws using this translation.
- An object in motion will reamin in motion and an object at rest will remain at rest - unless acted upon by another force.
- Acceleration is based on force and mass (F=ma).
- For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
To assist in teaching Newton's Law before this lesson is taught, I have included three Powerpoint lessons: