Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding Newton's 1st Law: Penny on a Coat Hanger - Newton's Law Expo (4 of 9) - Section 3: Student Activity


This is by far the hardest activity for the students to accomplish. If the learning wasn't so profound, I would probably substitute in another activity. Most of the time the penny flies across the classroom, which can be a good example of Newton's 1st Law (once a centripetal force is removed the object flies in a straight line based upon an applied force). When the penny does stay planted on the hook of the coat hanger the students are able to see how a force can keep an object in place on the end of a moving coat hanger.

The secret to success is to cheat a little bit and drill a divot in the penny. This small divot provides a balance point for the penny. In my experience the kids really to try to get the penny to stay on the coat hanger hook, but it is fun to watch flying pennies. 

  Difficulty vs. Learning
  Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Difficulty vs. Learning
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Newton's 1st Law: Penny on a Coat Hanger - Newton's Law Expo (4 of 9)

Unit 6: Forces
Lesson 4 of 12

Objective: Students will be able to experiment with Newton's 1st Law of motion using a penny and a coat hanger.

Big Idea: The centripetal force created by a swinging coat hanger will keep a penny pinned to the end of the coat hanger's hook.

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