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Lesson Plan

Newton's Laws

Force activities with a focus on (the more tricky to understand) Newton's Third Law.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Physics: Motion and Forces, Newton’s Laws, Gravity (K, 2, 6)

This activity is best done once students have been introduced to Newton's Laws:
First Law - objects will stay stopped or in constant motion until a force acts on them (which might make them stop or start or change direction)
Second Law - F=ma: for a constant force a smaller mass will accelerate more than a larger mass; a greater force will make the same mass accelerate more.
Third Law - for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; when an object pushes on another it gets pushed back with equal force

Start with the balloon rocket activity as a demonstration in the classroom, or outdoors. No string-let it fly free.
Discuss why it flies - the air is under pressure in the balloon so it rushes out of the hole. As it leaves it pushes back on the balloon exerting a force on the balloon which sends it upwards. This is Newton's Laws in action, demonstration the action-reaction of the Third Law.

Model how real rockets work with the film canister rocket.
To build up gas pressure in the gas chamber a chemical reaction is used.
The exiting gas pushes back on the rocket to make it go upwards.
To make it go higher, we need more gas leaving the chamber which will exert a greater force. (Newton's Second Law.) Baking soda and vinegar rocket demonstration.

Use molecule models to show how the baking soda and vinegar make gas.
Show the chemical reaction for real rockets.

Airplanes have more complex forces than rockets.
Students make paper airplanes, followed by discussion of the balance of forces that keep them in the air.
Lift is from Newton's Third Law - as the airflows off the wing it flows downwards. This downwards flow of air pushes back up on the wing, making a lifting force.
Allow students to experiment with tailoring their airplanes with the forces in mind.

Grades tested: 
Gr 6
Lynn Gonzalez
Site tested: 
Dorothy Lynas Elementary
Lesson plan originally developed and delivered: 

Dorothy Lynas Elementary