Newton's Laws of Motion

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SWBAT distinguish between Newton's 3 laws of motion.

Big Idea

Students will read about Newton's 3 Laws and apply their understanding of each one by classifying images illustrate the relationship each has with motion..

Lesson Overview

5e Lesson Plan Model

Many of my science lessons are based upon and taught using the 5E lesson plan model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. This lesson plan model allows me to incorporate a variety of learning opportunities and strategies for students.  With multiple learning experiences, students can gain new ideas, demonstrate thinking, draw conclusions, develop critical thinking skills, and interact with peers through discussions and hands-on activities.  With each stage in this lesson model, I select strategies that will serve students best for the concepts and content being delivered to them.  These strategies were selected for this lesson to facilitate peer discussions, participation in a group activity, reflective learning practices, and accountability for learning.

Unit Focus  

The Forces and Motions unit focuses on the gravity exerted by Earth on objects at rest or in motion. With this in mind, students will investigate types of forces and the effects gravity has on moving objects. They learn how forces can stop an object from moving, increase or decrease the speed of an object moving, change its direction, and put a resting object into motion. Through models, investigations, research, and the engineering and design process, students learn that gravity is a constant force that impacts an object’s motion. The unit wraps up with students using the engineering and design process to create a zip line to illustrate the effects of gravitational force.

Lesson Synopsis

In this lesson, Newton's Laws of Motion, I start off with a video that illustrates all three of Newton's laws of motion to spark student curiosity. Then we move on to researching Newton's laws of motion to find out how forces and motion are connected. After researching students rotate through stations, taking part in a classification sort where they read about different real world scenarios and need to determine which law of motion applies. The lesson then concludes with an exit ticket assignment related to Newton's laws of motion. It is collected and used as a formative assessment.

Next Generation Science Standards  

This lesson will address and support future lessons on the following NGSS Standard(s):

5-PS2-1.  Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.

Scientific & Engineering Practices

Students are engaged in the following scientific and engineering practices:

6.) Constructing Explanations- Students examine an image illustrating all three of Newton's laws of motion and construct an explanation based using evidence from their observations and inference of the image. 

8.) Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information- Students research Newton's three laws of motion by using reliable websites and describe each one.

Crosscutting Concepts

The Newton's Laws of Motion lesson will correlate to other interdisciplinary areas.  These Crosscutting Concepts include:

2.) Cause and Effect- Students observe and analyze different real world scenarios to identify changes in motion in each one and the effects that took place. They use their research on Newton's laws to justify which one of Newton's three laws of motion it represents.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Disciplinary Core Ideas within this lesson include:

PS2.A - Forces and Motion

PS2.B-  Types of Interactions


Classroom Management Methods

Importance of Modeling to Develop Student

Responsibility, Accountability, and Independence 

Depending upon the time of year, this lesson is taught, teachers should consider modeling how groups should work together; establish group norms for activities, class discussions, and partner talks.  In addition, it is important to model think aloud strategies.  This sets up students to be more expressive and develop thinking skills during an activity.  The first half of the year, I model what group work and/or talks “look like and sound like.”  I intervene the moment students are off task with reminders and redirection.  By the second and last half of the year, I am able to ask students, “Who can give of three reminders for group activities to be successful?” Who can tell us two reminders for partner talks?”  Students take responsibility for becoming successful learners.  Again before teaching this lesson, consider the time of year, it may be necessary to do a lot of front loading to get students to eventually become more independent and transition through the lessons in a timely manner.


For time management purposes, I use “lab rats ” where each student has a number on the back of his or her chair, 1,2,3,4 (students sit in groups of 4)and displayed on the board.  For each activity I use lab rats, I switch up the roles randomly so students are experiencing different task responsibilities which include:  Director, Materials Manager, Reporter, and Technician.  It makes for smooth transitions and efficiency for set up, work, and clean-up.  


10 minutes

Sparking Curiosity

I begin by having students view this video on blade runners during the winter olympics. I selected the video because it illustrates all three of Newton's Laws of Motion.

I ask students to think about the types of forces we learned about yesterday and ask them to talk with their group about which forces they saw during the video. Then I have groups share out their ideas and we discuss how the forces they identified (friction, push/ pull, air resistance, force applied, balanced/unbalanced forces) affected the motion of the skaters. My intention for this brief discussion is to encourage them to think about how forces and motions are connected.

I explain that they are going to research how forces affect the motion of an object throughout the rest of the lesson.


25 minutes

Researching Newton's Laws of Motion 

To help students further develop an understanding of the effect of force on motion, I have them use their Chromebooks to research Newton's three laws motion. I briefly share with students who Issac Newton was by projecting a snapshot of his significance to science. I point out that he created three laws of motion, which are still referred to  today and are used to understand the relationship between gravity, motion, speed, mass, and other actions with forces.

Researching Laws of Motion

Then I hand out the Newton's Law's of Motion graphic organizer and explain that it is used strictly to define and describe each of his laws of motion.  I direct students to two different websites to gather information about Newton's three laws of motion.

Chunking Our Research Task

Their first task is to read about New's First Law only on each website.  I want them to read different explanations to really help them develop an understanding.  After reading about Law #1, I reconvene the students to review what they researched.  We define and discuss the law.

1.) Law of Inertia- An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. An object in motion will stay in motion with the same speed and direction unless acted upon by an outside force.

We talk about the examples provided and what caused the objects to move and the effect of its movement. One example is when you go outside and a ball is sitting on the ground at rest. I explain that it will stay their until someone kicks it, throws it, or picks it up. It is in a state of inertia because it is resistant to any change in its position. It moves when a great force acts upon it.

We continue on in the same manner for Newton's 2nd and 3rd law. I chunk the research to give students structure and help them grapple with the concepts presented in each one.  ___________________________________________________________________________________________________

2.) Law of Mass and Acceleration- Acceleration is produced when a force acts upon an object. The more mass an object has the more force needed to move or accelerate the object. 

We discuss how force, mass, and acceleration are related. I explain that when something accelerates, it is moving faster, meaning the speed of the moving object increases. I relate this to a person driving a car. The driver uses the gas pedal to make the gain speed and move faster. Another example is related to the mass of two objects. If there is a heavy box and a light box, a person pushing the light box will move it fast because it has less mass; whereas, the heavy box will take longer to move because it has more mass.


3.)  Law of Action = Reaction- For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

I point out that when one object exerts a force onto another object, the second object exerts force of equal strength but in the opposite direction of the first object. Meaning, when an object or person pushes another object (or person), it will get pushed back equally as hard, but in the opposite direction. I share an example of action =reaction: a bouncy ball. The ball is thrown to the ground and the ground pushes it to move back up (the opposite direction). Another example is in baseball. When the bat (swinging forward) comes in contact with the moving ball, the bat pushes it to move it in the opposite direction.




15 minutes

Applying Newton's Laws of Motion

To help students further develop their understanding of Newton's Laws of Motion, I have students take part in a Laws of Motion classification sort. Each group receives a bag containing cards that have a variety of real world scenarios on each one. As a group, they work together to arrange these cards into three categories: Newton's First Law-Inertia, Newton's Second Law-Mass and Acceleration, and Newton's Third Law-Action=Reaction. While they are sorting and classifying the cards, I walk around the room checking in and monitoring groups. 

Laws of Motion Sort

The strategy A.I.R (Analyze, Interpret, Rationalize) is embedded as part of this activity. A.I.R. is a strategy that students use to analyze, interpret, and rationalize their thinking. It encourages students to collaborate and engage in discourse as they justify reasons to place each card in the Newton's laws of motions categories. Students are actively engaged in in applying what they have learned so far about to determining which card is illustrates a certain law of motion. 

We reconvene as a whole class and I have each group share out how they arranged their cards. I look for them to justify their sort. This lets other groups hear how their classmates approached the task. I am looking for students to thinking about the types of forces and motions mentioned in each scenario to help them classify each one as an example of Newton's first, second, or third law.


10 minutes

Once we have researched Newton's three laws of motion, I hand out an assignment which is finished as homework if it is not complete by the end of class.  

This assignment gives students three different illustrations, each one relating to one of Newton's three laws. Next to each image, students write how the particular law explains what is going in in the picture.

I collect it the next day and use as a formative assessment.