Newton’s Laws of Motion

Are you familiar with Newton’s three laws of motion?

Newton's Cradle

In 1687 Sir Issac Newton published his works entitled Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica. As intimidating as that may sound it is simply Latin for “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.” In this work he compiled three laws that are now renownedly known as Newton’s Laws of Motion. In this blog we will consider what the three laws are, why they matter and some modern-day examples to make them relatable.

  1. Newton’s First Law of Motion

An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion. However either can be changed due to an application of force.

This law is essentially Galileo’s concept of inertia and is known simply as the Law of Inertia. Newton stated this law to set the parameters for his next two laws. I’ll use a Fidget Spinner for an example. Before spinning, the object would likely not start spinning on it’s own! However, after spinning one, it would continue to spin forever if it were not for the effects (forces) of friction and gravity. It would be interesting to see an astronaut try this experiment while in space! 

 

2. Newton’s Second Law of Motion

Force equals Mass times Acceleration F=ma

This law explains the connection between the mass of an object, the acceleration and the resulting force. This equation also works backwards to determine the mass or acceleration of an object. For an example let’s use two vehicles on a crash-test course to determine their differences in force during impact. Let’s say Vehicle 1 is a Military Hummer with a weight of 7,700 lbs and Vehicle 2 is a Smart Car with a weight of 3,000 lbs. It seems we all know which would have more force but how do we reach that conclusion? Can Vehicle 2 impact with more force than Vehicle 1? Newton’s Second Law tells us. Lets take a look. Vehicle 1 weighing 7,700 lbs traveling at 60 mph will hit the wall dealing a force of 462,000 N. Vehicle 2 traveling at the same speed will only deliver 180,000 N of force. For Vehicle 2 to exert the same amount of force on the wall it would need to be traveling at 154 mph. That’s over twice as fast!

 

3. Newton’s Third Law of Motion

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

This Law is pretty easy to understand. Newton is telling us that for each and every force between two objects there is another force in the opposite direction of equal magnitude. An example of this is Newton’s Cradle. The cradle holds 5 balls of equal weight and size suspended from a foundation. If one ball is lifted and released it will hit the other four motionless ball and stop. However, the force will travel through three of the balls and cause the fourth to swing into the air as if you had pulled it up like the first! This scientific gadget can be used in different ways to yield different results (such as lifting two, three or even four of the balls). However, the law still remains the same. What we learn is that the ball that stops exerts its force toward the other four while at the same time the four exert a force on it.

 

Newton's Cradle

 

Now you have it! We really hope you enjoyed learning with us. Please come back to find more scientific knowledge and experiments! And feel free to share this page with any interested friends, family or students!

Science Jokes Explained

H2SO4

This shirt from ThinkGeek reads: “Johnny was a chemist’s son, but Johnny is no more. What Johnny thought was H2O was H2SO4.”

The science: H2O is, of course, water. H2SO4 is sulfuric acid, a highly corrosive acid. It’s a clear liquid just like water, so it’s no wonder poor Johnny got them mixed up.

Heisenberg and the Cop

Heisenberg argued that you can know either the precise location or the precise momentum of a particle, but not both. Even though this sounds like our measuring tools or technology is limited, the Heisenberg principle actually means that you cannot measure (no matter how good your technology is) the precise location or momentum of a particle.

May the Mass Times Acceleration Be With You

May The Mass x Acceleration

This shirt, from Snorg Tees, mixes science with geekery.

In physics, the force of an object is equal to the mass multiplied by the acceleration of the object. Therefore force = mass times acceleration. This image simply replaces “May the FORCE be with you,” from Star Wars with mass times acceleration.

Sodium Jokes

Chemistry is fun, but this one is more of a play on words. In the periodical table of elements, Sodium is represented by the symbol Na which looks like the word “Nah,” meaning “No.”

I found this Humerus

i found this humerus Organic Women's Fitted T-Shir

Another t-shirt, another play on words. The humerus is the long bone in your upper arm, but the word sounds like “humorous,” as in “funny.” So the joke sounds like it says both “I found this humerous (funny),” and “I found this bone.”

Lost electron

Atom humor

If an electron has more positrons than electrons, it has a positive charge. This joke takes advantage of the double meaning of “positive,” meaning both “positive charge” and “are you sure?”.

Carbon Dating

Did they form a covalent bond?

While it looks like these two carbon elements are out on a date, carbon dating is a method to estimate the age of organic materials.

 How it works: plants absorb carbon dioxide. But there are actually two types of carbon: carbon-12 and carbon-14 . Carbon-12 is ordinary, stable carbon. Carbon-14 has two extra neutrons and is a bit unstable. Eventually, carbon-14 will lose those two extra neutrons and become carbon-12. The rate that carbon-14 loses half its neutrons is called a half life. It’s a constant, predicatable time frame (5,740 years for carbon) and so can be used to estimate the age of organic materials like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

This joke is twofold: carbon dating can mean “two carbons on a date” or “using the decay of carbon to determine the date of organic materials.” The other line, “where half you been all my life?” sounds like a romantic line, “where have you been all my life?” but also refers to the half life of these carbon-14. All in all, it looks like a rather unstable relationship.

Here’s a final, self-explanatory one for you:

Can't Put it Down

How to turn a lesson into Halloween magic

How to turn a lesson into halloween magic

You’ve seen it–that magical moment when you students just “clicked” with your lesson. They were engaged, even if just for a few brief moments, instead of daydreaming or wishing they could be texting their friends.

Adapting your lesson to a Halloween theme is more likely to engage them. Kids are already fascinated by Halloween. Connect your science lesson to it, and they will be more engaged and interested.

The holiday becomes a catalyst for engagement.

How to adapt your lessons

Three simple steps:

Step 1. Look at the lessons you have planned for the next two weeks.

Are there any demonstrations you will do? A small modification may be all you need to turn it into a Halloween-based science lesson.

Step 2. Look for connections to Halloween: pumpkins, smoke, goo, colors, or mixtures.

Pumpkins

Can you do the experiment inside a pumpkin? I’ve seen the classic baking powder + vinegar demonstration called a Halloween experiment because it was done inside a pumpkin.

Witches Brew and Potions

Does the demonstration involve mixing anything together? That can be called witches brew or potion.

Smoke, Goo, Glow, and Colors

Does it involve anything along the lines of smoke, goo, something glowing, or the colors orange, black, or red?

Orange and black are classic Halloween colors. (Here’s a demonstration with black dry ice.) Red can bring up imagery of vampires or (for older kids) blood. (Here’s a simple density demonstration using Halloween colors.)

Mad Scientist

As a science teacher, you always have the option to pull the catch-all theme: mad scientist.

Step 3. Make it more than a label

For themes like this to work, they need to be more than a silly label placed on an ordinary experiment. Most kids will see through superficial labels.

So how do you take a demonstration, mix it with your theme, and come out with something to engage the kids?

How you Present it Matters

A man was once showing non-teachers how to teach. He had a delicious cake with the lesson topic written on top with icing. “Anyone want some?” he asked. Of course everyone did. When the first volunteer came up to get his delicious piece of cake, the teacher describes what happened:

I then sank my fingers into the top of the cake and tore out a large piece. I was careful to clench my fist after tearing it out so that the frosting would ooze through my fingers, and then as [they] sat in total disbelief, I threw the piece of cake to [him], splattering some frosting down the front of his suit. Would anyone else like some cake? I inquired. For some reason, there were no takers.

The teacher then brought out a fancy plate, silver fork, and napkin, and carefully cut a slice of cake from the non-destroyed side and offered it to the class. (Source: Teaching, No Greater Call.)

How you present your Halloween-themed demonstration makes an enormous difference. You can put a shallow label on an ordinary experiment. Or you can present it well, with the details that impress. Maybe dress up as a mad scientist or maniacal witch and brew a concoction of magical science.

Get inspiration

Here are some effective ways others have incorporated Halloween into their lessons. Launch your ideas from these inspiring demonstrations:

Halloween Science: Fluorescent Chlorophyll Halloween Science Fun Candy Potions ~ Invitation to play with Halloween Candy

See my Halloween science Pinterest board for more ideas!

How do you adapt your lessons?

Share with us what you have done to adapt your lesson to a holiday theme. What makes it successful? Do the kids love it? Do they learn more?

Participate in cutting-edge science with Citizen Science

We’re all about hands-on learning. And what better way to learn than to participate in actual, cutting-edge science inquiries?

Citizen science allows ordinary people–like you, me, and our kids–to participate in science. For example, The Lost Ladybug Project asks people to find and photograph ladybugs, in an attempt to find rare ladybug species. A 10 and 11 year-old boy and girl made the first major breakthrough in the project when they found a rare 9-spotted ladybug–the first seen in the eastern United States in 14 years!

Can you imagine the power behind citizen science? Students aren’t just learning about science, they’re participating in it! They are making science happen. Along the way, they’ll learn observational skills and apply the scientific method, as a matter of course. They’ll also learn about the topic at hand, whether it’s neutron stars or backyard birds.

Are you ready? These fantastic websites have curated lists of citizen science projects for you to participate in!

Cool Cat Teacher lists 17 citizen science projects for schools, teachers, and parents
Hack Education describes 5 apps that encourage citizen science
Wikipedia has dozens of Citizen Science Projects
SciStarter indexes hundreds of projects including Moon Zoo and a DIY Laser Harp

We’ve also made a Pinterest board tracking citizen science opportunities.