Inertia with Sir Issac Newton

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students-get-hands-on-with-isaac-newtonThis week in Science, Roberto Clemente Community Academy students got a chance to interact with one of Physics’ most famous figures, Sir Isaac Newton. After exploring Newton’s Laws of Motion through interactive multimedia Padlets featuring animations, videos, and interactive simulations, students brought their learning to life through a series of mini-lab stations that relied on Newton’s Laws of Motion. To learn about Newton’s First Law of Motion–the idea that objects that are at rest want to stay at rest and objects that are in motion want to stay in motion–students engaged with a class favorite activity, the tablecloth trick. In spite of many students’ hesitancy and fear of breaking dishes, they discovered their ability to pull a tablecloth out from underneath a place setting, demonstrating the concept of inertia.

To further engage with Newton’s 2nd Law, Clemente Wildcats got competitive in racing different mass cars to find out what happens to the acceleration when mass is changed. The juniors discovered that heavier cars, though they have more force, accelerate slower due to their greater mass.

Students dove into Newton’s Third Law by launching balloon rockets, using different mass balloons. As the balloon rockets demonstrated, Newton’s Third Law tells us that for every action, such as the air releasing downwards, there is an equal and opposite reaction, exemplified in the balloon rocket launching upwards. They were also able to determine that larger balloons, in spite of what you would expect, actually accelerate slower due to their higher mass.

The IB juniors will apply these concepts in their summative lab next week by researching, designing, and testing “football helmets,” the Clemente twist on the classic Physics egg drop. Students will have to incorporate their understanding of Newton’s Laws into their designs to effectively protect their eggs from a 10 foot drop!