Reflection: Modeling Newton's 1st Law: Greek Waiter Tray - Newton's Law Expo (3 of 9) - Section 3: Student Activity


It is important to understand that kids will often see Newton's Laws as a magical extension of science. Observed objects in their world do not always behave as Newton's Laws describe them. Students do not see gravity as an independent force that can act upon objects. They grew up with gravity as a constant and accept it as part of their life.

Aristotle, the father of science, believed that if you thought long and hard all the answers would be available. He didn't believe in experimentation - as a side note he never had reliable equipment to perform tests with. Through thought and observation, Aristotle said that falling was an embedded trait of all objects. This incorrect view of science was carried forward and is still accepted by many adults. Newton claimed, through experimentation, that gravity was an independent force that caused attraction between objects.

Be carful when you explain Newton's 1st Law as it is not what your students observe. There is a misconception that when a student throws a baseball that it will fall, which is correct by observation. Make sure you explain to students that gravity is a force that causes attraction and that if gravity was removed (throwing the baseball in outer space, far away from sources of gravity) the same baseball would travel in a straight line forever.

  Newton's Law are not magical
  Modeling: Newton's Law are not magical
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Newton's 1st Law: Greek Waiter Tray - Newton's Law Expo (3 of 9)

Unit 6: Forces
Lesson 3 of 12

Objective: Students will be able to experiment with centripetal force (explained by Newton's 1st Law) while using a Greek Waiter's Tray.

Big Idea: Centripetal force is achieved when a force is applied to an object at a right angle. By spinning a greek waiter tray with a cup of water students will be able to experience centripetal force.

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