Reflection: Lesson Planning Newton's 2nd Law Demonstration - Section 3: Student Demonstration


I believe that Newton's 2nd Law is the most difficult to teach because most people think of the relationship between force (F), mass (m), and acceleration (a) as it relates to objects moving down an inclined place, such as a ramp. Most kids have experience rolling toy cars down a hill or a ramp and they quickly learned that the heaviest car moved the fastest, apparently contradicting the principles of Newton's 2nd Law.

The version of Newton's 2nd law that I teach is:

2) Acceleration is based upon force and mass (F=ma).

In other words, how fast an object moves is based upon how much it weighs and how hard it is being pushed. Kids can understand that the harder you push a toy car the faster it will move. On an inclined plane however, the heavier object will typically move faster.

The best way to explain or demonstrate Newton's 2nd Law is to use a level surface. I often ask the kids if two vehicles (motorcycle and a truck) had the exact same engine type, which vehicle would win in a drag race. Most kids could explain that the motorcycle would win because it is lighter.

It is imperative that kids understand that Newton's 2nd Law is about the relationship between force (F), mass (m), and acceleration (a) that so important to understand, i.e. as a student walks around their daily class schedule they would walk considerably slower if they had to carry extra textbooks around. I like to frame the examples in concepts that have already experienced.

  Avoid misconceptions
  Lesson Planning: Avoid misconceptions
Loading resource...

Newton's 2nd Law Demonstration

Unit 6: Forces
Lesson 11 of 12

Objective: Students will be able to observe Newton's 2nd Law of Motion as it applies to their physical world.

Big Idea: Newton's 2nd Law is not always intuitive to students. Providing a real world example helps them to understand the physical environment they live in.

  Print Lesson
6 teachers like this lesson
Similar Lessons
The Wagon and The Ball
8th Grade Science » Movement of Objects in Space & Time
Big Idea: Students explore a situation that may be familiar from childhood — what happens to a ball sitting in a wagon when the wagon moves? Simple? Not necessarily.
Brookline, MA
Environment: Urban
Ryan Keser
Force & Motion - The Basics Net Force
7th Grade Science » Energy, Force & Motion
Big Idea: What forces are at work when objects move?
Hope, IN
Environment: Rural
Deborah Gaff
Float-a-Boat: Introduction to Scientific Inquiry and Design (Part 2/2)
6th Grade Science » Forces and Motion
Big Idea: Welcome to the water park! Students will create a “lazy river” boat from aluminum foil that will hold the most passengers.
Boulder, CO
Environment: Suburban
Erin Greenwood
Something went wrong. See details for more info
Nothing to upload