Applied Science - Physics (6A)

  • Exploring the nature of motion.
  • Observing and recording different forms of motion.


  • gravitational attraction
  • gravity
  • interactions
  • motion

Students observe the laws of motion.


Students have learned that there are 4 fundamental interactions that occur in our Universe. Emphasize that we don't fully understand any of the interactions. New data may change what is known. Physicists are in search for clues that will help understand our very existence. Scientists have long been looking for a Grand Unified Theory (GUT) to see if the 4 fundamental interactions are somehow connected. Physicists feel confident that electromagnetism, strong and weak nuclear are somehow related, but gravity acts separately and is difficult to describe.

In the overall picture of how and why our universe even stays together, there seems to be a link between gravity and motion. All substances, large and small, move. This motion could have been created through gravitational attraction of masses. Motion is complicated, there are many different forms, for many reasons. It is different types of motion that students will explore in lab.

It is important to get students to think about a universe that is full of motion from the smallest atom to the largest galaxy. Remind students that even as you sit still, we are moving. The Earth rotates on its axis, and revolves around the Sun. Our Solar System revolves within our galaxy and our galaxy is moving also.

Many scientists and mathematicians speculated about motion, but it was Sir Isaac Newton, a physical scientist and mathematician that lived in England from 1642-1727, who formulated his 3 laws of motion. He stated very simply his 3 laws of motion, which model what happens on Earth. You may remind students that Newton is the person who many say discovered gravity when an apple hit him on the head. That story is a little exaggerated, but it was Newton's genius that unlocked many questions.

Newton's Three Laws of Motion are called First, Second, and Third Law of Motion,

FIRST LAW: An object that is in motion continues in motion in a straight line, at a constant speed, unless a force acts upon it. If it is at rest, it continues in a state of rest unless a force changes its direction. A body that resists change in motion is called inertia.

SECOND LAW: If an unbalanced force acts upon an object, the object will be accelerated. (Force = mass x acceleration.) Note mass is equal to the quantity of matter in a body and weight is due to gravity upon a body. The greater the mass the greater the force must be for acceleration. Gravity of the earth attracts objects in the air to the ground.

THIRD LAW: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Forces always occur in pairs. For example pick up a book, the book is exerting down and your arm is pushing it up.

The post lab activity will summarize what they observed and provide students with a new set of vocabulary. The objective of the lab is to observe motion and to begin formulating ideas.


Follow the lab sheets and have students carefully record their observation. There are 6 different stations that the students need to observe, so there isn't much time to play with the materials. Have the students work in groups of 3 or 4. They will need their lab sheet from the post lab.

  1. YO-YO. Have students observe how a yo-yo works. Some students may be able to illustrate how you use a yo-yo. Don't be surprised if many students don't know how to work one.
  2. BALLOONS. You may want to tie a string from a chair to a door top. The longer the string the more students can observe the reaction of the balloon. We suggest that you have a balloon with the straw attached to the top already. Use tape to keep the straw on the side of the balloon. Students then will just have to blow the balloon up and let it go.
  3. FORCE MACHINE. Place the force machine on a flat stable surface. Remind students not to be rough with this toy because the strings easily get tangled.
  4. BALL. Just place a small ball for the students to throw into the air. Be very specific about how and where you want them to throw it to avoid any breakage.
  5. ORBITER. Place the Orbiter for students to follow directions from their lab sheet. Protect the toy so it doesn't get squished.
  6. GYROSCOPE. Place the gyroscope, string and plastic pedestal on a flat surface. If you want to get fancy, you may want to put out other items that the gyroscope can balance on. See the written material on the gyroscope container.

  [Back to Applied Science Grid]  [Back to Physics (6)]