Intro to Newton's First Law of Motion

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Students will be able to state the Law of Inertia and explain how inertia is related to the mass of an object.

Big Idea

Students use multiple sources to determine how Newton's 1st Law is connected to inertia.

Physics Families

10 minutes

The goal of this lesson is to give students a taste of Newton's First Law through a couple of different activities. The lesson begins with students working in groups to build peer relationships and then constructing explanations through a reading guide and a video. 

To begin out class, I have students get into their Physics Families (cooperative base groups). I always have my students share with their family one thing that they did over the weekend that was fun. After they have finished sharing, I introduce the activity for the class: completing the Pixar Implementation. Everyone in each group works to get the most answers correct based on the pictures given; the group with the most correct receives a certificate that they get to post on the Physics Family wall in the classroom.

I put 5 minutes on the clock and let students work; no phones and no computers are allowed, just Physics families. When the time is up I have the groups rotate their papers to the next group so that one group grades another group's work. I put the answers on the board so students can check and ask the groups to tally the number of correct answers at the top of the page. After collecting the papers, I announce the winners and have them sign the certificate and put it on the wall. I do this cooperative learning activity to try and make the classroom environment welcoming and encouraging.

Newton's 1st Law Paired Reading

35 minutes

After Physics Families, I pass out the new packets for the unit and I have students glance at the calendar and learning targets for the unit. Then I have them open their packets to the Chapter 3 Reading Guide in the Conceptual Physics online textbook. I have students complete this reading guide in partners. To complete the paired reading, I ask students to choose one person to start as the reader and the other to start as the writer. There are 6 sections to read and I ask students to switch roles after each section. As the reader reads aloud to their partner, the writer is listening. When the reader finishes, the writer reads the questions and writes down the answer that two partners agree upon. As they go through the reading, I make sure to walk around and answer any questions of students that are struggling to find answers. When the students are finished with the reading, I ask them to look over their answers one more time to make sure they didn't miss anything before moving on to the next activity.

Mythbusters: Tablecloth Chaos

25 minutes

When all of the groups have finished the reading guide, I ask students to turn to the Mythbusters Tablecloth Chaos Video Questions. Students will watch the Mythbusters episode on Tablecloth Chaos which shows a large scale of the tablecloth trick. I show this video for students so that they can see all of the variables that affect the tablecloth trick (as shown in the video) as well as being able to pull out the different variables and parts of creating an experiment.

As they watch the video, I expect them to be filling out the answers to the questions. With whatever time we have remaining, I go over a few questions to end the class. I like using this video because it does a nice job of looking at some of the factors that may affect the tablecloth trick that would be difficult for me to show by doing a demo. It is also another format for students to be able to visualize what is happening with Newton's first law before they do demonstrations of their own in the next lesson.