Newton’s Laws of Motion are used to explain the forces of motion that surround us in our everyday life. The three laws of motion can describe most observable paths of motion.
At General Motors’ Milford Proving Grounds, technicians place a crash test dummy behind the wheel of a new car. While the car accelerates and slams into a concrete barrier, the scientists watch computer screens that display data from sensors implanted in the dummy. These sensors report the acceleration experienced by the dummies and the forces acting on the dummies during the collision. The technicians study the data from the crash to design safer cars and more effective restraint systems. In this laboratory experiment, you will be exploring the effects of acceleration, force, and inertia on a small scale crash test dummy.
Students will make a Play-Doh dummy to ride on a Matchbox car down a ramp. They'll do all calculations and draw FBD (Free Body Diagrams). You'll need to purchase Play-Doh, Matchbox cars, and varying lengths of wood to complete the lab activity. For the wood (ramps), I used scraps I had at home that were as short as 2 feet and as long as 6 feet; I labelled the ramps so I knew which lengths the students were working with for their calculations. Excellent summative assessment for Newton's Laws.