Grade: Middle
Subject: Science

#661. Mini-labs on Newton's Laws

Science, level: Middle
Posted Fri Oct 9 10:34:36 PDT 1998 by Kayenta (
Grand County Middle School, Moab Utah
Activity Time: 20 - 30 minutes per lab
Concepts Taught: Energy, Force and Motion

These six mini-labs are intended to provide student-directed demonstrations of Newton's Laws, as part of the
Energy, Force and Motion Unit. Students are divided into 6 groups with each group rotating
to a different lab. The labs can be run over the course of a few days; or spread out for a longer period of time. The
labs can also be done in such a manner that each group is performing the same lab at the same time.
This lesson plan provides both student instruction and teacher information. Students were asked to take excellent
notes and record accurate observations at their labs. The questions were provided after each lab had been
completed. However, the questions can be given to students to complete while doing the lab.
The instructor should attempt all activities before presenting to the students. Students should be advised that if they
do not fully understand the directions or terms (such as perpendicular) they should get clarification before
Originally, the activity was designed for a classroom with no lab facilities and a small budget.


STATION #1 Clothespin Lab
Goggles for each student
2 broken pencils (one smaller than the other)
cookie sheet (or other unburnable flat surface)
safety stick matches

1. Using the string, tie the ends of the clothespin so that the clothespin is open.
2. Place the cookie sheet, upside-down, on the floor. (The middle of the room is a good place. Someone should
monitor the area, to be sure that students are not in the line of fire)
3. Place the tied clothespin on top of the overturned cookie sheet so that both halves of the clothespin touch the
cookie sheet. ( not just one half is touching).
4. Place each pencil on opposite sides of the clothespin, near where it is tied. The pencils should be perpendicular
to the clothespin.
5. Use a match to light and burn the string. Try not to burn the clothespin or your fingers.
6. Measure the distance that each pencil travels and record your observations.
7. If there is time, repeat the demonstration using other objects of differing masses. Be sure to record your

STATION #2 Dominoes
6 dominoes
book to use as a barrier

1. Set up a book to use as a barrier so the the dominoes do not leave the table.
2. Stack the dominoes with the widest parts touching each other. Place the stack 8 to 12 inches from the barrier.
3. Use the ruler to hit the bottom domino, sharply, toward the barrier. The bottom domino should be the only one
that is dislodged, although other may move a bit.
4. Do the same thing, except this time, hit the domino lightly.
5. Restack the dominoes and attempt to reduce the pile, one domino at a time.
6. Let everyone in the group make this attempt.
7. Write down all observations in your notebook.

STATION #3 Egg and Coin Lab
(this station is two very simple activities)
Part A-
piece of paper

1. Place the paper so that part of the paper is on the table and part is hanging off the edge
2. Place one of the coins on the paper that is on the table.
3. Attempt to remove the paper from under the coin with the least disturbance to the coin.
(the coin doesn't move, much)

Part B- (teacher note-- you may want to have several of both kinds of eggs on hand- label them before students

hard boiled egg
raw egg

1. Spin each egg on the table, separately. Do not spin the eggs so hard that they fly off the table or into something
so that they break!
2. Note what happens as you spin each egg.
3. Which egg do you thing is the hard boiled egg?
4. Explain your reasoning to your group. Try to convince everyone in your group that yours is the correct answer.
5. Let each person in your group do this activity.

STATION #4 Dropping Objects
ruler with a groove in the center
3 marbles of different sizes
pieces of paper
other objects: ping-pong ball, cork, small rubber bouncy balls, cotton balls, etc.

1. One student should stand on a stable table or other stable platform.
(**TEACHER NOTE: this can be done without additional height of a normal student)
2. The student places the three marbles in in the groove on the ruler and holds the ruler over the student's head.
3. Turn the ruler so that all three marbles drop at the same time, toward the floor, not the table top.
(one student should be appointed the "retriever", to watch where the marbles go; others in the group should watch
the demonstration).
4. Repeat the demonstration so that everyone in the group can be an observer.
5. Do the same thing with a flat piece of paper and a piece of paper that has been balled up.
6. The demonstration may be repeated with other objects.
7. Record your observations.

STATION #5 Car Crash
toy car: needs to be a convertible or truck
several textbooks to form a ramp and barrier
clay figure or Ping-Pong ball
string or thread

1. Set up a ramp that is two textbooks high with a barrier at the bottom of the ramp that will stop the rolling
2. Place the clay figure or Ping-Pong ball in the vehicle in such a way that it will fly out of the vehicle upon impact
with the barrier.
3. Place the vehicle with its passenger (ball or figure) at the top of the ramp and let it roll down the ramp.
(do not shove or push the car down the ramp)
4. Record your observations. Use measurements
5. Increase the height of the ramp and repeat the demonstration, recording observations.
6. Use a thread or string to tie the passenger into the vehicle, and repeat the demonstration.
(**TEACHER NOTE:if a clay figure is used the string will likely cut or amputate part of the figure's body
7. Repeat the demonstration.

STATION #6 Vinegar and Soda Demo
safety goggles
tissue paper or toilet tissue (do not use paper towel)
16 ounce plastic bottle
cork or rubber stopper to fit bottle
petroleum jelly
beaker of at least 100 mL
(**TEACHER NOTE: this activity requires an area of at least 25 feet long. A box marked on the floor with
masking tape will help students determine where to place the straws and bottle on the floor).

1. Put on safety goggles
2. Find the box marked with masking tape on the floor for this activity.
3. Place three straws, side-by-side, on the floor, inside the box.
4. Pout 100mL of vinegar into the bottle. Then lay the bottle on its side, making sure the vinegar does not leak out.
Then place the bottle horizontally on top of the straws. (The length of the bottle should lay across all three of the
straws). The bottle top should be facing away from the classroom and students.
5. Coat the rubber stopper or cork with petroleum jelly.
6. Place two tablespoons of soda on a piece of tissue, roll the tissue and twist the ends.
7. Put the wrapped tissue in the bottle and quickly fit the stopper or cork loosely but securely into the mouth of the
bottle. Do NOT force the stopper/cork in tightly!!! Be sure the tissue paper and its contents are in contact with the
8. BE SURE THAT EVERYONE, including students that are not in your group, STANDS TO THE SIDES OF
THE BOTTLE... not in front or behind the bottle.
9. Observe what happens and record measurements.
**Once the stopper/cork is in the bottle, students should not touch the bottle until the stopper/cork is expelled.
Should any adjustments need to be made or the demonstration does not seem to work, the teacher must assist.
10. CLEAN-up-- washout the bottle; throw tissue away; use soap to clean stopper/cork; return materials and
supplies; wash/dry goggles; wipe table and floor, if needed.

STATION #1 Clothespin
1. what you observed using terms that we have learned in this unit.
2. Was the force on each pencil the same? Explain
3. Give some practical examples of this activity.

STATION #2 Dominoes
1. What happened when you hit the cominoes sharply?
2. What happened when you hit the pile gently?
3. Were you able to reduce the pile completely? Why do you think this was possible?

STATION #3 Eggs and Coin
1. Were you able to move the coin without disrupting it?
2. Why is this trick possible?
3. What happened when you spun each egg?
4. How does inertia help you decide which is the hard boiled egg?

STATION #4 Dropping Object
1. Could you tell which object hit the floor first? If so, ecplain why you thing that object hit the floor first.
2. Were forces caused by air important in the investigation? Why?
3. What did you observe when you used different objects?

STATION #5 Car Crash
1. What happened to the passenger in the first trial? Why?
2. How far did the passenger travel from the vehicle in the first trial?
3. Did the height of the ramp make a difference in how far the passenger traveled? How? Why?
4. Could you make a better seat belt? Explain it.

STATION #6 Vinegar and Soda
1. What happened when the vinegar and soda mixed?
2. Did the stopper flyout of the bottle? If so, in which direction did it go?
3. Did the bottle move? If so, which direction?
4. How could Newton's 3rd Law be used to explain what happened?
5. How could Newton's 2nd Law be used to explain what happened?