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Making Newton’s Laws Easy

Newton’s Laws and easy in the same sentence? Maybe not, but trust me I have some resources that will do just that!

But first, how do you display your classroom agenda? I have an easel right outside my door that lists what each grade level is doing and recently it said.

“It’s Newton Week!”

The kids came in very excited, maybe more excited than I thought they would be. Then I heard a little voice saying, 

“I think it’s a football challenge.”

What in the world? They thought Newton was Cam Newton. I quickly explained who the real Newton is and we set off on a week-long adventure into the Laws of Motion!

STEM Challenges to make Newton's Laws easier to understand. These three challenges are exciting and competitive and much-loved!

Each grade level had a different project!

THIRD GRADE

The littles tackled the Second Law of Motion. Specifically, they explored using a car on a ramp! Would changing the angle of the ramp produce a greater force on the car?  Newton’s Law also says that more weight produces a need for more force! Would this hold true for our little cars if we placed something heavy inside them- maybe, like an egg?

It’s another fabulous STEM challenge using Newton’s Laws of Motion! Students will love this egg car challenge and the experimenting with their egg cars and ramps!
It’s another fabulous STEM challenge using Newton’s Laws of Motion! Students will love this egg car challenge and the experimenting with their egg cars and ramps!

The biggest obstacle with this challenge was in building the car! The car body itself was fairly simple! It was attaching the axle and wheels that created a problem to solve! Great fun!  

The wheels would sometimes roll and then malfunction. We learned that cutting the wheels out of the cardboard required a steady hand and those wheels better be round!  

Finally, the cars were tested on the ramps. Some rolled down and some slid down. A few cars overturned and spilled the egg onto the floor! We practiced this with a plastic egg, but in our final demonstrations, we used REAL ones! Only one cracked!    

FOURTH GRADE:

My 4th graders tackled the third law of motion! For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This one also produced some cheering and groaning when balloons popped or fizzled instead of projecting the balloon cars!

It’s time for a STEM Challenge with Newton’s Laws of Motion! Students will love this car “racing” challenge and the learning will amaze you! Your students will love seeing the balloon cars race each other or simply spin in circles!
It’s time for a STEM Challenge with Newton’s Laws of Motion! Students will love this car “racing” challenge and the learning will amaze you! Your students will love seeing the balloon cars race each other or simply spin in circles!

Of course, this one also involved making wheels and attaching the axles to the bottle car body. The biggest problem we ran into with this one is that the wheels were too small to be placed in the center of the car body. The kids learned the hard way to place the axle low on the body of the car!  

My favorite car was one that the team wanted to be smaller. So, we cut the water bottle into three pieces. They joined the top and bottom for a mini-car! Unfortunately, it didn’t roll very well when the weight of the balloon was added to it! It was cute, though!  

The cars were then raced on a foam track I built. We let every group demonstrate and then we set up side by side tracks and raced. It was quite noisy!

FIFTH GRADE:

My fifth graders were thrilled about this challenge. In fact, when I brought in a purchased Newton’s Cradle they flocked around it excitedly. They were ready to start building one right then and there!

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!!
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!!

Lots of big problems with this one! First, you had to build a frame. I had lots of ideas for this, but almost every group went with a craft stick frame which was hot-glued together!  

You might notice we use a lot of craft sticks in our lab! We use so many (and we do recycle them for new projects) I buy boxes of large quantities!

Back to the hot glue guns! Yep, kids and glue guns… I amaze myself with this kind of bravery, but y’all they did fine!  

I have strict rules about glue guns and constantly monitor them and they really do use them safely and correctly.   

The second big problem was attaching the marbles to the string, but we solved this with glue. The last problem was attaching the strings to the frame and we did this by tying the strings or gluing them in place. Some finished models are below. Yes, they did work pretty well!

Alright, friends, just know that tackling Newton’s Laws can be overwhelming, but by rewording the laws and using some videos students can begin to understand. They also love Newton STEM Challenges! Click on any of the images to see the details about the resources.

You might also enjoy these blog posts:

STEM Challenges to make Newton's Laws easier to understand. These three challenges are exciting and competitive and much-loved!

Comments

  1. The Teacher's Desk 6 says

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the video! I am going to learn how to make the car which is propelled by the balloon… TOO COOL!!!!! When we studied Newton's Laws I had my kids make inertia cars. Their cars had to have sails so they were a bit like a parasail car. We used lifesaver mints for wheels. Needless to say when we were finished I believe the tires disappeared?!?!?! Thanks for all the great ideas that you share!

    Angela

  2. Unknown says

    I purchased your mega bundle and can't wait to make the egg car under Newton's file with my third graders! Just wondering if you can send me the links to the videos that you use to teach the laws of motion, other than the one that is stated in the file packet.
    Thanks for all the great ideas! The mega bundle is AMAZING!
    Anne Marie

  3. Carol Davis says

    Thank you so much! I would love to send you the links, but I will need your email. I don't have access to that from the TpT accounts and your message here comes to my inbox with a no-return address. Just email me at teachersareterrific[at]gmail.com