The Law of Inertia

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Students will make observations about Newton's Laws of Motion through interactions with online media.

Big Idea

Observation and conversation about Newton's Laws of Motion should occur prior to learning the theory.


3 minutes

I tell students that in this unit we are going to be studying Newton's Law of Motion, and that primarily we will focus on his first law, The Law of Inertia.  I tell them that one of their jobs today is to determine what inertia means.  I let them know that we will be conducting demonstrations and simple experiments to test this law, and that today they will watch a few video clips and take notes in order to prepare for these experiments and demonstrations.  


45 minutes

The core of this lesson is tied to the videos listed below.  Students watch two of them and make observations in their science journal, in Google docs, or using the  Law of Inertia Study Guide with Questions or the Law of Inertia Study Guide Open Response page.  While I prefer open response because that builds their independent learning skills, some students need the structural support of the guiding questions.

My students have access to computers so they are able to make individual or pair choices about which video they wish to watch.  If you are going to watch the video with the entire class, the Professor Mac video is closer to 3rd grade level than the Khan Academy video.

The video links are in the study guide documents as well.

 Professor Mac Explains Newton's First Law of Motion

Khan Academy - Newton's First Law of Motion

Egg Drop Demo  (for everyone)


Here is an example of the first part of a student's response to the Professor Mac video.  He took a page of notes and was also able to explain it to me verbally.  Here is the entire page of one Student's Notes on Newton's First Law .

Here is another example of notes a student took during this activity.


10 minutes

I put students together with a new partner or in a new group and ask them to discuss what they observed, what they understood, and what they have questions about.