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Sir Isaac Newton and his Laws of Motion

Which law of motion applies?

a. Jen is stepping out of a boat on to a dock. She has one foot on the dock and one foot in the boat.
No one holds on to the boat. It begins to move away from the dock. Jen's legs split wider and wider.
Which law applies?


b. Jen is playing soccer. She kicks a goal from the 18 line with her left foot.
Which law applies?


c. Jen is using her computer. She bumps her mouse. It falls off the desk.
Which law applies?


d. Jen goes shopping at the grocery store. She notices that as she adds items to the cart it gets harder to push.
Which law applies?


e. Jay is the defensive tackle on the football team. When he hits the other team's linemen, he bowls him over backwards.
Which law applies?


f. Jay is in the lunch line pushing his tray along the tray ledge. He wants to hurry things,
so he gives his tray a mighty push. John (who is 2 people ahead of Jay) sees his tray fly off the tray
ledge and on to the floor. His buddy, Bits says, "Hey, that is a good example of ......"


g. The school has a magician give an assembly. He waves his hand over a table that has a tablecloth
covering it. It is set with dishes and glasses. He suddenly yanks the tablecloth off, but all the dishes and
glasses stay in place. Mike says, "That's magic!"

Dr. Farr, the physics teacher, says, "Actually, that is a fine example of Newton's ..... law!"


h. Jay drives his truck to football practice. He gives Jen a ride. The truck stalls in the parking lot.
He gets out and pushes it, but it won't budge. He tells Jen to get out and help him push.
They manage to push the truck into a parking space. (Thank goodness he is a tackle!)
Which law applies?

What two factors changed in the truck question?


i. Mrs. O'Hora parks her brand new car on her driveway. The driveway has a very slight slope. She leaves the car in neutral gear and does not apply the emergency brake. Just as she opens the house's front door, she hears a BANG! Her new car is
against a tree at the lower end of the driveway. Poor Mrs. O! Her car has $2000 in damage.
She wonders, whatever happen to things at rest staying at rest?  (Let us not discuss what her husband wondered.)


j. Observe this Olympic competition video - Which law(s) applies?


k. Mr. O is tired of carrying the firewood down a flight of stairs, into the basement, for the furnace. He builds a shoot. He is pleased when he watches the logs roll down the shoot and fall into the wood box at the bottom. Mrs. O is trying to fill the wood box. She places a split log at the top of the shoot and it slides about 1/2 way down. It stops there. She gets another log and pushes it down the shoot, aiming to hit the stuck log. She hits it! The stuck log goes down the shoot, but the second log, now sits halfway down. She repeats the process, but now she throws the second log much harder. She is confident that this will solve the problem.

Predict - What will happen?

Based on what you know, advise Mrs. O on how to solve her problem.


l. Your parents are having an energy efficient, environmentally friendly metal roof installed on the house. The installer is trying to convince them that they need to install snow guards, at the edge of the roof. Your father says their asphalt shingle roof does not have them. He questions the need for snow guards. Explain the physics of the necessity for snow guards on a metal roof with a pitch of 10/12.


m. Coach Joe is teaming up with the high school's physics teacher to show students that science applies to sports. He is holding a basketball. A baseball is balanced on top of the basketball. He asks the class to predict what will happen when he drops the balls.

Make your prediction.

Get the balls and conduct the experiment. What are your findings?



Complete the Sir Isaac Newton and his Laws of Motion Hunt

Answer the challenge question at Science Court. | Complete the exercises on this web page Forces and Newton's Law

Do the problems posted at this link using the formula based on Newton's second law of motion. Write your answers here. Write your score!


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Terrific online, free physics video tutorials at (basic to advanced level)

Tackle one of Exploratorium's - Digital Library Learning Resource ideas | Observation: Science Skill Builders

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2009 Cindy O'Hora, This activity may be printed as is for individual use in a nonprofit setting.

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