How to Demonstrate Newton's Second Law of Motion for a Science Fair Project

Written by etch tabor
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How to Demonstrate Newton's Second Law of Motion for a Science Fair Project
Newton's Second Law of Motion states that force is equal to mass times acceleration. (science image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com)

Sir Isaac Newton developed three laws of motion to describe how objects move through the physical world. His first law of motion describes how objects in motion remain in motion unless another force acts upon that object, such as friction. His third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is why, as you step off a boat and onto the shore, the boat tends to drift away from the shore. The second law explains the relationship between force, mass and acceleration, specifically stating that force is equal to mass times acceleration. To convey this principle of physics, you only need a handful of simple objects.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Large rubber band
  • Meter stick
  • 100-gram mass
  • Masking tape
  • Tin can with lid

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Apply masking tape to the floor to mark a starting point for the can. The rubber band will be used to propel the can. You will need to mark a point to where you pull the rubber band back. This way you can control the force the rubber band applies to the can.

  2. 2

    Place the can on its mark. The can should be on its side so that it can roll easily. Be sure to have the lid on the can.

  3. 3

    Pull back the rubber band to so that it is stretched to its mark.

  4. 4

    Release the rubber band so that it hits the can. Record the distance the can travelled.

  5. 5

    Place the 100-gram weight in the can and repeat the experiment exactly. Record how far the can travelled this time. Based on Newton's Second Law of Motion, the can should travel less distance the second time. This is because you are applying the exact same amount of force to a larger mass, which causes a decrease in acceleration.

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