STEM Challenge Newton's Cradle - featuring Newton’s 3rd Law

Grade Levels
5th - 6th
Formats Included
  • Zip
23 pages
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My STEM students cheered when they found out we were building a Newton's Cradle! They loved learning about this Law of Motion and creating their own model to demonstrate it! Your students will love this STEM Challenge, too!!

Note: This challenge is available as part of money-saving bundles!

What is the challenge?

Students will use materials to design and create a Newton’s Cradle. In this event, students will review what they know about the laws of motion- especially the third law. Students will have to build the frame for the device, a way to attach strings to the marbles, and a way to attach strings to the frame. This can include measuring as the length of the strings is a factor.

What is your prep?

You will need supplies in addition to this package. This includes Craft sticks, Straws, Beads, Cardboard pieces, Masking tape, Pipe cleaners, Rubber bands, Paper clips, and binder clips, Marbles, String, and Hot Glue guns and glue- one glue gun per team. The option of using hot glue for the assembly is yours to make. You may want to ask for parental help in your classroom- depending on the age of your students.

NOTE: This was tested with fifth graders and is recommended for that age group or older students. This is an amazing challenge, but it is a challenge. It may take many tries to get the strings attached and working. Students will love the task and cheer when their device works - even if it works imperfectly!

The package specifically includes:

  • Cover
  • Teacher background
  • Materials and preparation page
  • 6 pages of teacher directions
  • Constraints list
  • A special page of information about Newton’s Laws of Motion
  • 5 pages of photographs
  • Student lab sheet in 3 versions
  • Scoring rubric
  • Terms of Use page
  • Forms for this challenge are provided in an editable format!
  • Student answer sheets are not included, but samples from student work are included in the teacher direction pages.
  • The page count listed for this package includes everything.

This challenge will need 1 - 2 class sessions to complete. We needed two full-class sessions to complete this project.

This challenge works perfectly with these Newton challenges:

Or you can purchase all three challenges in money-saving bundles:


The simplified version of the third law is: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

So How Does This Apply to Newton’s Cradles?

This is easily demonstrated with a purchased Newton’s Cradle. We had to drop one marble, then 2, then 3, and then 4 to get every student to see that the force is always equal and works the same on opposite sides. Building a Newton’s cradle is the perfect item to share with the third law of motion.


You might also like these STEM events about Force and Motion:


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Total Pages
23 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.


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