# E Physics: A. Newton s Three Laws of Motion Activity: Newton s Third Law of Motion

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1 Science as Inquiry: As a result of their activities in grades 5 8, all students should develop Understanding about scientific inquiry. Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry: identify questions, design and investigation, collect and interpret data, use evidence, think critically, analyze and predict, communicate, and use mathematics. Source: National Science Education Standards National Science Education Standards (NSES) Motion and Forces The motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed. That motion can be measured and represented on a graph. An object that is not being subjected to a force will continue to move at a constant speed and in a straight line. If more than one force acts on an object along a straight line, then the forces will reinforce or cancel one another, depending on their direction and magnitude. Unbalanced forces will cause changes in the speed or direction of an object s motion. Transfer of Energy Energy is a property of many substances and is associated with heat, light, electricity, mechanical motion, sound, nuclei, and the nature of a chemical. Energy is transferred in many ways. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Expectations Investigate how a change in one variable relates to a change in a second variable. Identify and describe situations with constant or varying rates of change and compare them. Collect data using observations, surveys, and experiments. Represent data using tables and graphs such as line plots, bar graphs, and line graphs. Predict the probability of outcomes of simple experiments and test the predictions. 1

2 Science Process Skills: Predicting Observing Investigating Communicating Drawing conclusions Inferring Objectives: The learner will recognize examples of Newton s Laws in the physical world. The learner will conclude every action is followed by a reaction equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. Time: 15 minutes Instructor Materials: Scooter board or skateboard (optional) Two chairs with wheels (optional) 2

3 Instructor Background Information: Key Vocabulary Force A push or a pull that gives energy to an object, sometimes causing a change in the motion of the object. Mass The amount of matter in an object, independent of gravity. Mass is different from weight of an object. Weight is the gravitational effect on mass. Magnitude The greatness of size or amount. Scientific Law A statement of fact meant to describe, in concise terms, an action or set of actions. It is generally accepted to be true and universal, and can sometimes be expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation. Scientific laws are similar to mathematical postulates and do not need any complex external proofs; they are accepted at face value based upon the fact that they have always been observed to be true. Specifically, scientific laws must be simple, true, universal, and absolute. 3

4 Newton s Third Law of Motion Newton s Third Law of Motion states, For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the force on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object. The direction of the force on the first object is opposite to the direction of the force on the second object. We can observe this law with: Propulsion of a fish in water Flying motion of birds Motion of cars Rockets leaving the Earth The two forces in an action-reaction force pair always act on two different objects. A net (unbalanced) force acts on an object, creating acceleration of that object. Although the forces are equal in magnitude, the mass of the two objects may be different. Therefore, the result of the interaction will cause the object with less mass to have more acceleration, resulting in movement. In each case, the ratio is the same. Author David Stern, in his course on astronomy, represents this mathematically: Let us call the force F, with magnitude F, and suppose we have two objects (e.g. billiard balls) labeled A and B, pushing each other apart. Suppose A has mass M 1 and undergoes acceleration a 1, while B has mass M 2 and undergoes acceleration a 2. A acts on B with force F, so F = M 1 a 1 while B acts on A with force F, so F = M 2 a 2 Let us first look just at magnitude forget the vector character, forget the minus. Then F = M 1 a 1 and F = M 2 a 2 4

5 Without the minus sign, the same F appears on the left! Therefore, M 1 a 1 = M 2 a 2 Divide both equations by M 2 [M 1 / M 2 ] a 1 = a 2 and then divide both by a 1 [M 1 / M 2 ] = [a 2 / a 1 ] You can see the result: When only A and B are involved, their accelerations always have the same ratio. 5

6 Instructor Preparation: üü Have scooter board or rolling chairs available, if using the optional demonstrations. No other preparations are necessary. 6

7 You can also conduct a demonstration using two student volunteers in rolling chairs. The students should face each other, with palms touching. On cue, they will push each others palms. Each student should roll backward. Lesson: 1. Lead a brief oral review of the content from previous lessons on Newton s First and Second Laws. Explain that Newton further observed the effects of force and motion on objects, and that today we will investigate Newton s Third Law of Motion. 2. Ask for the students to sit up straight in their chairs and put their feet firmly on the floor. Explain that you are going to give them a challenge. Say, When I say, Go! I want you to stand up. However, you have to do it without pushing on anything. Does everyone understand the directions? Okay Go! 3. Students will attempt to stand. Some will think they have succeeded but draw attention to the fact that they pushed down with their hands, arms, or legs. Eventually, the students will acknowledge that it is impossible to do. Lead the students to conclude that they observed what Newton also observed: forces always occur in pairs. To stand, you must first push down. Optional Demonstration: A. Stand close to a wall (about 1 foot) on a scooter board or skateboard. Ask the students what will happen if you push against the wall. Allow them to discuss with a partner what they think will happen and why. Elicit student responses to describe that when you push forward against the wall, you will roll backward (opposite in direction). Demonstrate by pushing against the wall. (You should roll backward.) Ask them to predict what will happen if you push harder. A more forceful push will cause a greater roll backward (equal in magnitude). As you push against the wall, the wall is also pushing against you in the opposite direction with the same amount of force. 5. Explain: Newton s Third Law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton found that forces involved in an equal and opposite reaction always act on different objects. He found that the reaction is the same strength, or magnitude, as the action, and it is always in the opposite direction of the action. 6. Have students complete the first box on the activity log. 7

8 Strategic Questions: When you are ice skating or roller blading, what causes you to move? (You push back with your feet, and the ground pushes in the opposite direction, making you move forward. The ground doesn t move because it has more mass, but you move forward because you re smaller amount of mass has more acceleration.) What will happen if you push back with more force? (The ground will push your body with more force [equal in magnitude], causing your body to have even more acceleration.) 7. Remind students that when they studied Newton s Second Law, they learned that Force = mass x acceleration. Thinking about the optional demonstration, the wall has greater mass than your body; it does not accelerate much. However, since your body has less mass, it has greater acceleration and rolls back. (The wheels reduce friction and allow freer movement.) 8. Transition to an appendix activity to complete the investigation of Newton s Third Law. If students have completed the lesson Crash Test Dummies, have them recall what happened to the car after it hit the block: it pushed backward. As the car pushed the block, the block pushed on the car. The block and the person holding the block had more total mass than the car. The car, therefore, had greater acceleration than the block. 8

9 Newton s Third Law of Motion Assessment Suggested Final Assessment Questions 1. Bob pushes on a tree with 100 Newtons of force. He then pushes a dump truck full of bricks with 100 Newtons of force. Which of the following statements is true? a. Bob is pushing the tree with more force. b. Bob is pushing the dump truck with more force. c. Bob is pushing with the same amount of force each time. d. The dump truck pushes back on Bob with more force than the tree. 2. Identify the opposing forces in the graphic to the left: 3. You want to construct a device that will carry a note from the right side of the room to the left side of the room. The only materials you have to use are a balloon, string, a straw, and some tape. Describe, in detail, how you would construct the device, and explain how it would work. 9

10 Newton s Third Law of Motion Assessment Suggested Final Assessment Questions Comprehension Application 1. Bob pushes on a tree with 100 Newtons of force. He then pushes a dump truck full of bricks with 100 Newtons of force. Which of the following statements is true? a. Bob is pushing the tree with more force. b. Bob is pushing the dump truck with more force. c. Bob is pushing with the same amount of force each time. d. The dump truck pushes back on Bob with more force than the tree. 2. Identify the opposing forces in the graphic to the left: Possible answer: The boy and the bat push the ball and the ball pushes back with an equal amount of force. Because the ball has less mass than the bat and the person holding the bat, the ball will have more acceleration. Synthesis 3. You want to construct a device that will carry a note from the right side of the room to the left side of the room. The only materials you have to use are a balloon, string, a straw, and some tape. Describe, in detail, how you would construct the device, and explain how it would work. Possible answer: First, thread the string through the straw. Attach the string to each side of the room. Blow up the balloon and tie it with a piece of string. With the tape, attach the balloon to the straw with the opening facing the right side of the room. Tape the note to the straw. To send the note to the left side of the room, untie the string to allow the air to escape. As the escaping air pushes to the right, the air in the room pushes to the left on the balloon. This will cause the balloon to travel from the right to the left side of the room. 10

11 Newton s Third Law of Motion Activity Log Action/Reaction Opposing Pairs For every action there is an and reaction. The reaction will be the same strength as the action. The reaction will be in the opposite direction of the action. The formal definition states: Forces always originate in pairs, equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. The two opposing forces always act on two different objects. What are the two opposing forces in this pair of action/reaction forces? The force of the The force of the

12 Newton s Third Law of Motion Activity Log Action/Reaction Opposing Pairs For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The reaction will be the same strength as the action. The reaction will be in the opposite direction of the action. The formal definition states: Forces always originate in pairs, equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. The two opposing forces always act on two different objects. What are the two opposing forces in this pair of action/reaction forces? The force of the swimmer s hand pushing backward on the water. The force of the water pushing forward on the swimmer s body.

13 References: Newton s Laws of Motion: Movin On. (n.d.). Beyond Books. Retrieved from Newton s Third Law of Motion. (n.d.) The Physics Classroom. Retrieved from Stern, David P. From Stargazers to Starships. Retrieved from 13

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