I call students to the gathering area to introduce our new physics unit. I tell them that we will be learning a little history and science today. We will be exploring the work of Sir Isaac Newton.
I ask students if they can tell me anything about this person. Usually, some students are very knowledgeable about him and can explain that he discovered gravity and can sometimes explain his laws. Many students have no idea who he is. So, this is a fun little history snippet to start with.
I like to start this lesson with a video about Isaac Newton. There are many of them out there on YouTube.com or TeacherTube.com. However, my favorite is:
A BrainPop video at: https://www.brainpop.com/science/famousscientists/isaacnewton/
If you don’t have access to BrainPop, you might try:
Students are usually engaged by the end of the video and want to learn more about this guy who noticed apples falling off trees.
I tell them that they will investigating the laws of physics that Sir Newton discovered, in our class investigations today.
These activities can be done in a centers-style learning environment. Students can work in groups and rotate around the room. I also use this time for students to sit at their desks and create their unit cover page in their science notebooks. This alleviates some of the congestion at the investigation tables and creates another rotation for students.
Inertia (Newton’s First Law) Investigations:
I learned these inertia challenges at a great teacher workshop. They were great fun as an adult, so I love to do them with my students as well. Usually they get it faster than us old teachers did!
Prepare a question for the raw egg spin. Place it under a flap on the table so students do not look at it until after the investigation and it is a leading question:
What did not stop spinning inside the spinning raw egg?
Money Going Nowhere
Students should place a 3” x 5” file card on a drinking glass. Place a quarter in the center of the card. Students flick their finger to move the card quickly across the glass. Students should observe what the quarter does.
Break A Ruler…Yes, You Have Permission!
Students place a plastic ruler under five pieces of newspaper.
NOTE: Leave a note for students, that tells them that you will be doing the inertia demonstration of all time at the end of this lesson…stay tuned!
Acceleration (Newton’s Second Law) Investigation:
Catch That Ruler
Students will test their reaction time against gravity. It’s brains and synapses against the G-Force!
Action and Reaction (Newton’s Third Law) Investigations:
Table-Top Newton’s Cradle
Tape two yard-sticks onto a table top, just wide enough apart to roll large marbles or ball bearings between them without sideways movement.
Place ten marbles/ball bearings in the “track”.
Have students try variations of moving the marbles/ball bearings.
See handout attached.
I call students to the gathering area and tell them that we will wrap up this lesson and talk about our observations during our next lesson. I will also do the inertia demonstration at the beginning of the next lesson… I say this to stir up some anticipation and excitement for the next lesson.