A 4-page lab activity
that helps students to investigate Newton’s first law of motion
by using toy cars, toy people, and coins to examine the effects of unbalanced forces
and inertia on objects.
In this student-led activity, students are provided 2 toy people (such as toy soldiers), a toy car or physics motion cart, a heavy book, a roll of masking tape, and a stack of 5 large coins. Using these basic tools, students then perform 2 self-guided investigations
to investigate the effects of Newton’s first law on moving objects.
In the first investigation
, students place 2 toy people on top of a car and roll the car so that it collides with the book. Using their knowledge of Newton’s first law, they are to explain the relative motion of both the car and the people. Then, students are challenged to design a way to keep the people in the car using masking tape (which mimics seatbelts in regular vehicles) and explain how their solution works using ideas of forces.
In the second investigation
, students set a stack of coins on a table. Then, they are instructed to slide another coin at the stack in an attempt to dislodge the bottommost coin from the stack. It’s a fun portion of the lab that students get very involved with! Finally, students are asked to use Newton’s first law to explain the relative motions of the bottommost coin and the stack above it.
This lab activity arose because I wanted a simple lab that investigated Newton’s first law in a fun and easy way; one that ultimately would naturally lead to a discussion on seatbelts and other aspects of car safety technology. This student-directed activity
typically takes pupils half a class period to complete
. This gives educators time to review the lab and relate it to the motion of people and objects in car collisions
Investigations That Students are to Perform:
- Colliding a toy vehicle into a barrier with toy occupants unattached
- Colliding a toy vehicle into a barrier with toy occupants firmly attached
- Colliding two coins, one loose and one at the bottom of a heavy stack of coins
Lab Techniques Addressed by This Activity:
- Following a procedure
- Creating an engineering design solution
- Testing an engineering design solution
- Analyzing data
Full Answer Key with Sample Answers:
- The product features a full answer key
with sample student responses
Downloadable in 2 Formats:
- This worksheet comes in 2 formats: a static PDF document
and fully-editable WORD document
- Download the full PDF preview
to see EXACTLY what you are getting!
Relevant CC Standard(s) and/or NGSS Core Idea(s) Addressed by This Product:
NGSS - MS-PS2.A
Physical Science – Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
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