If you have ever had a Newton’s Cradle in your classroom then you will totally understand the fascination with this STEM Challenge! Kids absolutely love to watch a Newton’s Cradle clack endlessly together.
I promise the first time we tried this challenge my fifth graders actually cheered when I announced what we were doing.
It’s the Famous Newton’s Cradle Challenge!
The fascination with this device is the way that it works. If you pull up one ball on one side and release it, then one will fly out on the other side. This will continue until the device slows and stops.
What happens if you pull up two balls and release them? Two fly out on the other side. This also works for three or four balls!
Can we build one of these?
The three photos below show marbles that are hanging correctly.
Another String Problem!
We encountered several different things with the strings that would create a problem that had to be solved. Check the photo below! The device looks great. But, it did not work well at all. Can you see the problem?
TIP: I have a model that was purchased and I allow kids to see it as they work on their creations. They need to note that the strings are long enough to almost touch the tabletop and the metal balls touch one another when hanging.
TIP: The frame needs to be squared. This simply means the lengths of the sides and the ends must be the same. If one side is longer or angled a little differently, then the marbles don’t follow a path that produces the result you want.
TIP: We used beads or straws glued or taped to our marbles as the way to attach the strings to the marbles. This works, but they do pop off easily.