Staying in Motion

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Students will conduct and write about a series of demonstrations that demonstrate that an object stays in motion until it is acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Big Idea

We have an intuitive understanding of some basic physics principals.


4 minutes

I remind students of the videos the watched and wrote about yesterday, as well as the simulation.

I tell them that today we will conduct a simple demonstration to test out Newton's 1st Law of Motion and the principle of inertia.   

I review expectations and procedures for this activity, as there is both running and throwing involved, and then we're off!


7 minutes

As a class, we read and briefly discuss these key vocabulary terms  I remind them that when they write their hypothesis, observations and question, they need to use specific scientific vocabulary.

I teach the vocabulary for this lesson in a straightforward manner.  

  1. The students silently read the vocabulary and definitions on the board.
  2. I read through just the words, and they repeat them after me.
  3. They read the definitions either out loud to the class or to one another and we discuss them, giving brief examples of how the word is used in context.



45 minutes

Focus Questions:

If (a student) runs as quickly as possible past a bucket, and drops a block straight down into the bucket as they pass, what will happen?

* What law of motion explains what will happen?  How?

I explain to students that we are going to conduct a very simple experiment that will give us a chance to think about one of the laws of motion.  They will run as fast as possible past a bucket and as they reach the bucket, they will drop a block in it.  They may not lean or slow down.  They must drop the block when they are next to the bucket.  I ask the students to write down a prediction about what will happen.  I provide the following sentence stem:

If (a student) runs as quickly as possible past a bucket, and drops a block straight down into the bucket as they pass, then....

After they write their hypothesis, we go into the hallways to conduct the experiment.  I have found that they can't get up enough speed in the classroom, and as their natural tendency is to slow down so they don't smash into the wall, this pollutes the experiment because they are slowing down as they pass the bucket, which changes the experimental parameters.

As many children as possible get one chance to run past the bucket and drop the block.  If possible, I have a student using a camera or ipad to film it so we can look at it in slow motion later.

The students keep track of the number of successes and failures.

We go back into the classroom and using a red pen, they write down what they observed.  I provide the following sentence stem:

When students ran as quickly as possible past the bucket, dropping a block straight down as they passed it, _____________________________________.

I ask students to draw a diagram of what they observed.

As a final step, I ask students to write (in pencil again) what they think they could do to increase their chances of getting the block in the bucket.  They still have to run quickly, they still may not bend over into the bucket, but given those constraints, what else could they change?  

I tell them we will test out their ideas tomorrow.