Physics is a challenging subject for students because most of its lessons are abstract concepts created to explain natural events. Lessons such as Newton's laws of motion can be difficult for students to understand if they are simply answering word problems about the topic. Instead, consider creating some experiments about various laws to help the students remember the meaning behind each law of motion.
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Newton's Second Law: Egg Drop
Newton's second law says that the heavier an item is and the faster it is accelerating, the greater the force will be when it's acceleration ends. Keeping this in mind, it is well established that if you drop an egg from the top of bleachers, it is going to fall; however, the eggs do not necessarily have to break if they fall long distances. For this experiment, challenge your students to invent a contraption that will protect their egg from breaking when dropped from a long distance. Some guidelines to consider setting for the experiment would be that the students cannot create a parachute and the design must be built themselves and cannot be from a kit. When the assignment due date comes, take the students out to the school bleachers and drop their eggs from the top to test their contraptions.
Newton's Third Law: Balloon-Powered Rocket Car
Newton's third law states, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." Help students better understand this law with a rocket car experiment where a focused air stream's force causes a stationary car to move. The cars can be built from basic items such as foam meat trays, and their rocket force is a balloon taped to a straw. After the students build their cars and measure the distance they travel, have them calculate the exact amount of energy stored in the balloon using the various equations for that unit. As an added reward for their hard work, consider letting the students race their cars to see whose car is fastest.
Newton's First Law: Roller-Skate Energy Transfer
Newton's first law of motion states, "Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it." Get the students out of the classroom and into some fresh air with an experiment designed to teach them the principals of energy transfer in Newton's first law. Have two students put on some roller skates and stand a good distance apart. Possible activities for the students to do that will cause energy transfer could include throwing a ball back and forth, attempting a tug-of-war and pushing off each other with a perpetual motion transfer. Have the entire class discuss the different forces that occurred and the change of motion that occurred as a result of them.
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