Forces and Motion Discussion Starters


Discussion Starters - Educational Innovations NewsletterForces and motion are all around us.  You might even say they make the world go ’round.  In 1687 Isaac Newton attempted to explain the movements of everything in the universe—from a pea rolling on a plate to the position of the planets.  It’s staggering to think about how much of our daily life involves some aspect of Newton’s Laws of Motion.

This is one science topic that can be easily approached by using examples from our collective life experiences.  Starting a discussion about forces and motion with your students is easy.  All you have to do is drop a feather…  nudge a toy car forward… pull open a door.

We’ve put together a collection of interesting topics and interactive games that you can use to get a conversation going with your students.  Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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Forces and Motion TV


EI TV - Educational Innovations BlogNo matter what grade you teach, at some point you will surely need to introduce your students to the three Laws of Motion developed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1687.  His Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica took Newton two years to write and was the culmination of more than 20 years of thinking.

That was more than 300 years ago.  Today, we live in the YouTube era.  Videos allow us to quickly summarize important scientific concepts like forces and motion in dramatic ways that your students will understand and remember.  We’ve gathered some excellent examples here.  Enjoy!  

If you find a video on forces and motion that you’d like to share with us, please leave a comment!

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Forces and Motion in the News


latino-professor-newspaperYou can’t talk about forces and motion without talking about Isaac Newton.  His three Laws of Motion were published more than 300 years ago, and yet their basic concepts—inertia, acceleration, momentum, and mass—are still the standard for how we discuss forces and motion today.  The laws may have been refined over the years (most famously by Einstein) but they still reign as incontrovertible scientific laws.  We couldn’t send the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit without Newton.

While there may not be much NEW about Newton’s Laws, there is still plenty to say about how they affect the world around us.  Read on for some interesting news reports related to forces and motion.  Let us know if you find an article you’d like us to post!

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Newton’s Apple


Matthew Morrisby: Matthew Morris

Newton was a revolutionary thinker of his time. He is responsible for the three laws of motion that we still use today;

1. Objects that are not in motion remain stationary unless acted upon by another force.

2. There is a direct relationship between the force acted upon the object and the mass of that object times the acceleration the object feels (F=ma).

3. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

NewtonNobody before Newton could explain why objects acted the way they did, but with these three laws he quantified movement in terms everyone could understand.

But there was a problem with his theory; if all motion had to be caused by some force acting on it, then why do objects fall towards the earth when you release them from a fixed position? This free falling object was in fact free, meaning free of outside forces acting upon it (besides wind resistance). There were no visible forces acting upon that object. So why do they move downward if nothing is acting on it? But Newton explained this motion with gravity. He said that gravity is a force that the earth has upon all objects, something invisible that pulls us down at all times at a constant acceleration. There is a myth that the way Newton thought of the idea of gravity was when he was thinking about it under an apple tree when an apple fell on Newton’s head and at that moment, he figured out that there must be a force pulling the object down. This is also why apples are used to demonstrate Newton’s force, but no one knows definitively if the myth is true or not. Read the rest of this entry »


The Revolution Top Floats – Why?


Martin Sagendorfby:  Martin Sagendorf

We often think we see forces.  However, in reality, we only see the results of forces.  To understand forces we must believe in Newton’s Third Law.  It states that all forces can only exist in opposite pairs and be equal in magnitude.  And… what is very interesting is that Newton’s Third Law does not stipulate that the forces be of the same kind.

Also, by Newton’s Second Law: If the (net) forces are equal, there will be no accelerations (Fnet = ma = 0)… in other words… equal and opposite (net) forces create a state of equilibrium.  An interesting example of equal and opposite (and unlike-type) forces is that exhibited by a combination of opposed magnetic fields within a gravitational (force) field.  These two different (types) of fields interact purely as ‘force fields’ – only their forces matter… not their types.

Cosmic Magnetic Puzzle in Physics Demonstration Apparatus BookThe Cosmic Magnetic Puzzle exemplifies a combination of such forces: a barbell containing two ‘donut’ magnets supported in mid-air above stationary pairs of magnets – with an additional pair of donut magnets maintaining the horizontal location of the barbell. Read the rest of this entry »