Unit Motion:
Newton's Laws

A diagram illustrating Newton's 1st, 2nd and 3rd laws.
Students explore Newton's laws of motion
Copyright © OLGA LEDNICHENKO https://www.flickr.com/photos/olga-lednichenko-photos-albums-images/6417813593


Move it! This unit explores Newton’s Laws of Motion. Students have fun exploring the concepts of forces and changes in motion, action and reaction, angular momentum, and pendulums. A variety of hands-on investigations and related activities help learners make sense of motion.

Engineering Connection

Whether designing objects that move or stay put, understanding Newton's Laws of Motion helps engineers of all disciplines quantify the "invisible" forces acting on all objects. For example, engineers take advantage of their understanding of rotational inertia and angular momentum to maximize the thrilling spin experience on amusement park rides. Besides being used in clocks, engineers use pendulums in equipment to detect earthquakes, design buildings to resist shaking due to earthquakes, and help robots balance.


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Unit Schedule

Suggested activity order:

More Curriculum Like This

Lower Elementary Lesson
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Students learn what a pendulum is and how it works in the context of amusement park rides. While exploring the physics of pendulums, they are also introduced to Newton's first law of motion — about continuous motion and inertia.

Middle School Lesson
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Students learn the concept of angular momentum and its correlation to mass, velocity and radius. In an associated literacy activity, students use basic methods of comparative mythology to consider why spinning and weaving are common motifs in creation myths and folktales.

High School Lesson
A Tale of Friction

High school students learn how engineers mathematically design roller coaster paths using the approach that a curved path can be approximated by a sequence of many short inclines. They apply basic calculus and the work-energy theorem for non-conservative forces to quantify the friction along a curve...

Middle School Lesson
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Students explore how pendulums work and why they are useful in everyday applications. In a hands-on activity, they experiment with string length, pendulum weight and angle of release.


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Last modified: December 10, 2020

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