Reflection: Staircase of Complexity Newton's 3rd Law: Skateboard Activity - Newton's Laws Expo (8 of 9) - Section 3: Student Activity

 

As part of this activity, I talk to the kids about how rocket engines work. If a rocket shoots particles in one direction the rocket travels in the opposite direction (action equals reaction - Newton's 3rd Law). It doesn't matter what the rocket expels.

In this case, the student on the skateboard is the rocket and the medicine ball is the engine. The reacting movement (student moving backwards) is based on the acceleration of the initial medicine ball throw (acceleration = force of the throw divided by the mass of the medicine ball - Newton's 2nd Law). You could also include Newton's 2nd Law if you wish to add to the complexity of the demonstration.

To further emphasize Newton's 3rd Law, I allow the group to play catch with the medicine ball. Every throw and catch moves the student on the skateboard backwards, showing every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Be careful - I once had a student complain of bruised ribs after catching an overzealous throw.

  Pulling the 'student learning' from this activity.
  Staircase of Complexity: Pulling the 'student learning' from this activity.
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Newton's 3rd Law: Skateboard Activity - Newton's Laws Expo (8 of 9)

Unit 6: Forces
Lesson 8 of 12

Objective: Students will be able to use a skateboard and a large mass to experiment with Newton's 3rd Law.

Big Idea: When you toss a medicine ball it causes an equal and opposite force that is normally never observed. However, do it while on a skateboard and Newton's 3rd Law can be seen.

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