Motion Lessons
What to Do After the Hands-Are-On


The purpose of this session is to demonstrate a variety of strategies that help children learn observation techniques, organize data collection and develop meaningful relationships between the activity and a child-generated concision.

There are five simple demonstrations (hands-on student experiments) for each of Newton's Laws. The presenters assume that students are working collaboratively. Student activities for observation, data collection, analyses and conclusion writing will follow each demonstration. These will include questioning techniques (oral and written), group and class charts, framing, student constructed data charts, constructing inferences from observations, identifying variables, making dependable predictions, finding evidence to prove your theory and writing activity-appropriate conclusions.

Class management will be briefly discusses as it relates to the critical thinking activities. Participants will have the option of participating as a "child"; a complete handout is available.


Robert Wood, Science for Kids: 39 Easy Engineering Experiments. Tab Books, Blue Ridge
     Summit, PA, 1992

Ronald Marson, Peg Marson, TOPS Learning Systems .10970 S. Mulino Rd., Canby, OR, 97013, 1990, Motion, Pendulums

Richard Churchill, Amazing Science Experiments with Everyday Materials. Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., New York, 1992

Janice VanCleave, Physics for Every Kid. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1991

Judy Breckenridge, Simple Experiments with Everyday Materials. Sterling Publishing Co. Inc., New York, 1993

Vicki Cobb and Kathy Darling, Bet You Can. Avon Camelot Book, New York, 1983

AIMS Education Foundation, Fresno, CA, 1993: Machine Shop, Math + Science, Pieces and Patterns


Materials used in the demonstrations are available in grocery and hardware stores. Wooden sheres and spools were purchased at Michael's.

Newton's Laws of Motion

Law 1

Every material object continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed on it.

     1.   Slopes and Rollers

2. Pendulum

3. Earth-Moon Model

4. Egg Drop

5. Soda Pull

6. Friction

Law 2

The acceleration of an object is directly proportional to the net force acting on the object, is in the direction of net force, and is inversely proportional to the mass of the object.

     7.   Collisions

8. Brick Pull

9. Acceleration

10. Sprinting into Science

Law 3

Whenever one object exerts a force on a second object, the second object exerts an equal and opposite force on the first.

pre> 11. Crash

12. Balloon Rocket

13. Paddle Boat

14. The Attacking Lid

15. Rotating Jet Balloon

16. Catapult!

Slopes and Rollers
Workshop Focus: Making Tables for Data Analysis
Purpose:  To investigate the relationship between mass/distance traveled and
          slope/distance traveled
Materials:     ramp. marbles, meter sticks, tape, books
Procedure:     Roll marble down ramp, measure distance
Data Table:

     Use the data table to make a graph using the average data.
     1. Did the height of the slope increase the distance the marble rolled? Why? Why not?
     2. If the slope keeps getting steeper will the marble roll farther each time? Why? Why
     3. Do you think the same thing would happen if you used a different surface for your
     ramp (example: rug, sandpaper, cement)?
     4. Which do you think is more important the size of the marble or the weight of the
     marble? Explain.
     5. Design an experiment to test questions # 3 and # 4.
Data Table:

What rule would you write for this experiment?

2. Pendulum

Workshop Focus:     Identifying Variables    
     To describe the relationship between mass and frequency, and mass and amplitude
Materials: string, washers, tape, meter stick
     Use 20 cm length of string and fasten washer to one end. Tape the other end of the string to
     the top of the desk so that the pendulum hangs freely. The pendulum must be swung from the
     same height for every trial. Suggestion: students sit on floor and bring washer even with their
Data Table:
     Make a data table showing the length of string, number of washers, number of swings and the
     distance of the swing. There should be three trials.
     Using the data table, make a graph.
     1. Write at least four observations about your swinging pendulum.
     2. What could you change to get different data?
     3. Design an experiment for each variable you mentioned in question # 2. 
     4. Conduct the experiments you designed.
     5. Make a table that shows what you changed and what the affect was.

     What rules would you write for these experiment?

3.Earth-Moon Model

Workshop Focus:     Identifying Variables
     To show the relationship between inertia and gravity in orbiting satellites
Materials: straw, string, paper clips, clock
     Tie one paper clip to a 30 cm piece of string. Pull the string through a 10 cm piece of straw and
     attach five paper clips to the other end. Hold straw upright with the five-paper clip end pointing
     down. Spin the single paper clip just fast enough to support the other clips about 1 cm from the
     bottom of the straw. Count the number of revolutions (orbits) in one minute.
Data Table:
     Make a data table that shows the number of revolutions per minute, for one revolving paper
     1. What represents the moon? the earth? earth's gravity?
     2. Why doesn't the moon come crashing to earth?
     3. If the moon's orbit slowed, would it be pulled straight to earth? Explain.
     4. Suppose Earth's moon had twice the mass. Would it circle the earth at the same rate? 
     5. Design an experiment to test question # 4.
     6. What else could you change to obtain different data?
     7. Design an experiment for each variable you mentioned in question # 6. 
     8. Conduct the experiments you designed.     
     What rules would you write for these experiments.

Egg Drop

Workshop Focus:     Making Valid Observations; identifying cause and effect
Purpose:  To show how inertia keeps resting bodies at rest
Materials:     raw egg, bowl, water, cardboard that fits over top of bowl,  6 cm cardboard tube
     Fill bowl with water and place cardboard on top; place egg on tube and set in center on
     cardboard. Quickly pull on cardboard; egg should drop into bowl.
Data Table:

Your observation of what happened to each






     1. Why was the water in the bowl?
     2. Would this experiment work without water?
     3. What was the purpose of the tube?
     4. Did the egg flip over when it went into the bowl?
     5. Would it matter if you placed the egg pointed side down on the tube?
     6. Would the experiment work if the cardboard were removed slowly?
     7. What would you have to change if you put something on the tube that was a lot heavier than
     the egg?
     8. Why didn't the egg stay on the cardboard? Explain.
     What rule would you write for this experiment?

5.Soda Pull

Workshop Focus:     Identifying and Graphing Variables
Purpose:  To demonstrate the effect of weight on inertia
Materials:     2 liter soda bottle, rubber band, 30 cm of string, scissors, ruler, water
     Tie the string to the rubber band and put the rubber band around the bottom of the bottle. Pull
     on the string until the bottle starts to move. Measure the amount that the rubber band stretches.
     Repeat with different amounts of water in the bottle.
Data Table:

Amount of water used (in milliliters)
Distance rubber band stretched (in cm)

Using the data, make a graph.
     1. What is your independent variable? dependent variable?   
     2. Which data should be graphed on the horizontal axis of your graph? Why?
     3. What happened when you added more water to the bottle?
     4. Does the stretch of the rubber band depend on how hard you pull or on how much water is
     in the bottle?
     5. Did all students pull the rubber band the same way? What could cause an error in your
     6. Write a good definition for Inertia.
     What rule would you write for this experiment?


Workshop Focus: Writing a Summary
     To compare different surface, testing how much force is required to move an object
     over each surface
     empty 1 gal milk bottle, newton (spring) scale, rubber band, sandpaper strip, wax
     paper, Pam, strip of poster board, playing cards, wheeled carrier large enough to hold
     the milk bottle, masking tape
     Pour 1,000 ml of water into the milk bottle; place the rubber band around the bottle,
     even with the water level. Attach a newton scale to the rubber band. Tape the other
     materials down on your work surface. Pull the bottle along the desk, or floor, and
     measure how many newtons are required to keep it moving. Record this information.
     Repeat these steps for each of the different surfaces.
Data Table:

Type of surface



wax paper

Pam sprayed surface

poster board



Make a bar graph using the data from your table.
     1. What parts of your experiment stayed the same?
     2. Why did you use different surfaces?
     3. What caused the measurements to be different?
     4. What was your control in this experiment?
Summarize this experiment in paragraph form.
First sentence:     purpose of the experiment
Second sentence:    summary of the procedure
Third sentence:     summary of your results
Fourth sentence:    explanation of results
Fifth sentence:     the rule for this experiment


Workshop Focus:     Describing the Relationship between Variables; Recording Data
     To track collisions between spheres of equal and unequal mass
Materials:     2 ramps, marbles, ball bearings of different sizes, ping pong balls, tinted soapy
               water, graph paper, ruler
     Mass each sphere and record. Measure the diameter of each sphere by laying the
     sphere on a ruler; record. Set up the two ramps with graph paper between them. Label
     one ramp A, the other B. Practice rolling marbles down the ramps so that the marbles
     collide. Select one sphere to be Sphere A, and one to be Sphere B. Write the diameter
     and mass of the spheres you used on the data table for Trial 1.Dip the spheres in the
     soapy water and roll them down the ramps. With a marker or pencil, trace over the
     collision track made by the two marbles. Write Trial 1 in the lower right corner of the
     graph paper. Set the graph paper aside to dry. Get another piece of graph paper and
     place it between the ramps. Make sure the ramps are lined up. Repeat these steps
     with different combinations of spheres.
Data Table:
Look at your collision papers to complete the chart.

Description of Spheres Used
Describe the collision

Sphere A
Sphere B


     1. Do all of the collisions look the same?
     2. Did Sphere A move the same way in all of the trials?
     3. What did you change in each trial? What stayed the same in each trial?
     4. Describe what happens when the diameter of Sphere B is larger than Sphere A;
     describe what happens when the diameter is smaller.
     5. Describe what happens when the mass of Sphere B is greater than Sphere A;
     describe what happens when the mass is smaller.
     6. What could you conclude about the mass of your marbles if you only saw the path
     they left and nothing more?
     What rule would you write for this experiment?

8. Brick Pull

Workshop Focus:     Inferencing and Predicting
     To show the relationship between mass and acceleration (the amount of newtons
     required to move an object is dependent on the mass of the object)
Materials: 3 bricks or large books, string, newton scale
     Tie the string around the long sides of the brick. Attach a newton scale to the string.
     Pull and record the number of newton's required just to start the brick moving. Repeat
     for 2 and 3 bricks.
Data Table:

Trial 1 N 
Trial 2  N
Trial 3  N
Average N

1 brick

2 bricks 

3 bricks

Make a line graph for the average number of newtons per brick.
     1. What do you predict will be the number of newtons required for moving 4 bricks? for
     6 bricks? 10 bricks?
     2. Using a different colored pencil, show your prediction on the graph.
     3. Test your prediction.
     4. What would happen if you used four bricks and pushed with 2 newtons and at the
     same time pulled with 2 newtons?
     5. Would you need the same number of newtons to push the bricks instead of pulling
     them? Explain your answer.
     6. Test your predictions.
     7. Do you need the same number of newtons to lift up the bricks? Explain your
     8. Test your prediction.
     What is the rule for this experiment?

9. Acceleration

Workshop Focus:     Inferencing and Predicting, Drawing Diagrams
     To understand that acceleration is a change in direction
Materials: baby food jar, water, small paper clip, string
     Fix a paper clip and thread with masking tape under the lid of a baby food jar, so it
     hangs in the center when closed, not touching the bottom. Fill the jar with water and
     close it. Push the jar  and observe the movement of the paper clip to complete your
     data table.
Data Table:

Independent Variable (what you did)
Dependent Variable (what you observed)

start jar moving

push jar and let it come to a free sliding rest

move jar in a straight line at a constant
speed (keep your hand on the jar to push)

jar at rest

move jar in a circle at constant speed

Draw diagrams to show the result of each of the independent variables.
     1. Did the paper clip move in the same direction as your push?
     2. If you are standing in a moving bus, how will you move when the bus stops
     3. If you are sitting in a moving car that is suddenly hit from behind, how will you
     4. If you are sitting in a parked car, how will you move if the car is hit from behind?
     from the front?
     5. If you have a small red ball sitting in the middle of a wagon, describe how the ball
     will move when you start pulling on the wagon.
     6. Stack some books on a chair and move the chair forward then quickly stop it.
     Describe what happens to the books.
     Write the rule for the movement of the paper clips.
     Write the rule for the movement of the jar.


Workshop Focus:     Proving a Theory    
     To prove a given theory
Materials:  clay, two rulers, small toy car that fits on ramps, masking tape, pencil, two books
     The faster an object moves, the harder it will react to being stopped. You will prove
     this theory by completing this experiment .Make a ramp out of one ruler. Tape the
     pencil perpendicular to and 2 car lengths from the end of the ruler. Make a clay figure
     and carefully set it on  the car. Do not press the clay down on the car. Let the car roll
     down the ramp and collide with the pencil. Use the second ruler to measure the
     distance the clay figure falls from the car. Repeat the procedure several times and
     then add another book and repeat.
Data Table:

One Book - distance
fallen in cm
Two Books - distance
fallen in cm

Trial 1

Trial 2

Trial 3


Make a line graph using the data in the table. Use a different color for each ramp.
     1. What does raising the ramp cause the clay figure to do?
     2. What do you think happens to the car as it rolls down the ramp?
     3. When it is rolling down the ramp, is the speed of the clay figure the same as the
     speed of the car?
     4. What stops the car?
     5. What stops the clay figure?
     6. What happens to the car when it stops? the clay figure? 
     Did your graph prove the rule given? Explain.

Balloon Rocket

Workshop Focus:     Writing a Lab Report
     To demonstrate how unbalanced forces produce motion
Materials: string, straw, tape, balloon, two chairs
     You will attach a balloon to a string. Before you start the experiment, predict what
     will happen to the balloon when you release it. Cut a 10 cm piece of straw. Cut 5 m of
     string and pull the string through the straw. Attach the string to the chairs and position
     them apart so that the string is tight. Inflate the balloon and twist the open end. Move
     the straw to one end of the string and tape the balloon to the straw. Release the
Data Table:
     None required unless you are going to expand the experiment, comparing different
size balloons, or change the angle of the string, etc.
     Write a lab report in which you answer the following questions.
     1. What was the purpose of this experiment?
     2. What was your hypothesis?
     3. What materials did you use?
     4. Summarize the procedure you used to test your hypothesis.
     5. Explain what happened to the balloon. Draw a diagram if necessary.
     6. Why did the air come out of the balloon?Why did the balloon move? 
     7. Did the data support your hypothesis?
     8. Write the rule for this experiment.
     9. Think of some jobs which would need to apply this rule.
     10. How could you get better data for this experiment?

13. Paddle Boat

Workshop Focus:     Writing Accurate Observations
     To demonstrate Newton's Law of Action/Reaction
Materials: cardboard, rubber band, scissors, container of water 10 cm deep, ruler
     Cut a 10 cm square from the cardboard. Shape the boat by cutting one side into a
     point and cutting out a 5 cm square from the opposite end. Cut a 2.5 cm X 5 cm
     paddle from the cardboard. Loop the rubber band over the ends of the boat. Insert the
     paddle between the sides of the rubber band. Turn the cardboard paddle towards you
     to wind the rubber band. Place the boat in the water and release the paddle. Observe
     the direction of motion. Wind the rubber band in the opposite direction by turning the
     rubber band away from you. Place the boat in the water and observe the direction of
Data Table:

Observed event

In which direction did the paddle turn?

In which direction did the boat move?

Did the boat move in a straight line?

Describe what happened to the rubber

Explain what happened when you reversed
the procedure.

When the paddle hits the water, what does
the water do?

Does the paddle move or does the water
move or do both move?

If both the water and the paddle move, how
does the boat move through the water?

Why does the water hold up the boat?

Would the boat move if the boat and paddle
were under water? Explain.

     Write a rule for this experiment.

The Attacking Lid

Workshop Focus:     Writing a Lab Report
     To interpret an action/reaction event in terms of Newton's Third Law
Materials: clothespin, baby food jar with lid, rubber bands, thread, clay
The problem for this experiment is: How does a launcher  work? Write your hypothesis after
you have read the procedure.Fix a clothespin to a baby food jar with two rubber bands so the
jaws point up. Separate the other clothespin so that there are two halves. Tie a thread to the
jaw-end of the half clothespin. Open the clothespin on the jar as wide as you can. Put the half
clothespin  sideways (wide side) into the jaws.Put this set-up next to a baby food jar lid in an
open area on the floor. Pull the thread with a quick flick of your wrist. Describe what happens.

Add different amounts of clay to the baby food jar lid. Repeat the flick and describe what
Observation Table:

Flicking Event 

What happened to the lid?

What happened to the jar?

What happened to the half clothespin?

What happened to the  whole clothespin ?

What was the purpose of the thread?

What happened when you added clay?

What happens when you increase the
amount of clay?

Explain what happens in terms of Newton's
Second Law.

Explain what happened in terms of
Newton's Third Law.

Write a lab report in which you answer the following questions.
     1. What was the purpose of this experiment?
     2. What was your hypothesis?
     3. What materials did you use?
     4. Summarize the procedure you used to test your hypothesis.
     5. Summarize your observations. Draw a diagram if necessary.
     6. Explain why the lid moved the way it did.
     7. Did the data support your hypothesis?
     8. Write the rule for this experiment.
     9. Think of some jobs which would need to apply this rule.
     10. How could you get better data for this experiment?

Rotating Jet Balloon

Workshop Focus:     Drawing Diagrams to Explain Results
     To understand the motion of a rotating jet balloon in terms of Newton''s Third Law
Materials: balloon,  2 flexible straw, tape, straight pin
     Stretch a balloon by pulling in several directions. Attach a balloon to the end of a straw
     with tape. Push a straight pin through the straw near the balloon. Pivot this on another
     vertical straw. Blow up the balloon, release it and watch it spin. Bend the straw at
     different angles and repeat.
Observation Table:

Angle of straw
Description of Movement

straw is straight

straw is slightly bent

straw is bent at a right angle

straw is bent at more than a right angle

     1. How does the angle of the bend affect the performance of your jet straw?
     2. Using diagrams, explain your observation in terms of Newton's third law. Use arrows
     to show the direction of motion. Label all parts of the diagram.
     3. What does the bend in the straw do to the air coming from the balloon? 
     4. Is this experiment similar to the experiment with the balloon on the string? Explain.
     5. The balloon on the string moves forward. Why does the balloon on the straight straw
     not move forward also?

16. Catapult

Workshop Focus:     Graphing
     To graph how acceleration is directly proportional to force and inversely proportional to
Materials:      manila file folder, paper clips, masking tape, paper punch, index card, Newton
               scale, thread, scissors, pennies, aluminum foil, towel, thread, meter stick,
               rubber bands (size 16)
     Making the catapult

     The Experiment
     Rest a sheet of foil on a towel to mark where the catapulted pennies land. Measure
     horizontal distance with a meter stick, from the point of impact back to a penny-thread
     plumb line that hangs under the center of the launch point. (Reuse the same foil many
     times by something out the points of impact). 
Data Table:
     The first data table is for force/distance, holding mass constant. 
     The second table is for mass/distance, holding force constant at 2.5 N.



Graph your results and write a conclusion.