1-2 class periods
- Understand the ideas of motion and force;
- Describe Newton's three laws of motion; and
- Test Newton's three laws of motion in a game of marbles
- Marbles, about 10 per student group
- Chalk, 1 piece per student group
- Paper and pencils
- Computer with Internet access (optional)
Discuss the concept of motion and the laws that govern it.
Talk about Newton's three laws of motion. What are Newton's laws? What is inertia? Write the three laws of motion on the chalkboard or on a large piece of paper in front of the class.
Ask student volunteers to read the laws aloud and explain them in their own words. Ask for students to give examples of when they have seen these laws at work.
Divide students into groups of 4-5 and give each group about 10 marbles. Take the class outside and have one student per group draw a circle about two-feet in diameter with the chalk. Ask each group to sit on the outside of their circle. Have each student select a marble to be used as a "shooter." Remind students to pay attention to how their shooters look so that they can pick it out if it winds up in a group of marbles at any point.
Demonstrate how to play the game: players hold on to their shooters, the rest of the marbles are placed in an "X" formation in the center of the circle. When it is your turn you flick your marble into the circle, attempting to hit other marbles out. Any marble your shooter sends out of the circle goes into your pile. If you hit marbles out of the circle, or if your shooter travels outside the circle, you get to pick up the shooter and safely wait for your next turn. If your shooter gets caught in the circle on a turn and you don't flick any other marbles out, your shooter has to stay where it is until all other players have had their turn. If this occurs, other players can attempt to flick your shooter out of the circle. If they do, you have to give them all the marbles you have captured and you are out of the game. The person with the most marbles at the end of the game wins.
Allow students to play several rounds of marbles. While they are playing, walk around the groups and ask them questions about what is happening in the circle. What happens to a marble that hasn't been hit by a shooter? Will a shooter keep on moving if it doesn't hit any marbles? Talk about the laws of motion while you walk around the circles, pointing out examples of the laws at work in the marble games.
After several rounds of marbles, ask students to clean up and return to the classroom. Once students have returned to their desks, read Newton's laws of motion aloud and ask volunteers to talk about examples of these laws at work in their marble games. When a shooter hit a marble in the circle, what happened to it? What happened to marbles that were at rest if they were never hit by another marble? What happened to the shooters if they were not blocked by a marble after being flicked?
Have students write each of the three laws of motion on a piece of paper, and write a paragraph describing examples of each law that occurred during their marble games. When students have finished, ask volunteers to read their paragraphs aloud. Give them a chance to read about Newton's laws of motion on the following Web site:
Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
- Three points: Students were highly engaged in class discussions; fully participated in their group marble games; and wrote well-organized paragraphs correctly describing examples of how each of Newton's three laws of motion worked during the marble games.
- Two points: Students participated in class discussions; somewhat participated in their group marble games; and wrote adequate paragraphs that correctly described examples of how two of Newton's three laws of motion worked during the marble games.
- One point: Students participated minimally in class discussions; did not participate in their group marble games; and wrote incomplete paragraphs that did not correctly address Newton's three laws of motion.
Access this resource at:
Introduction To Physical Science
Definition: A measurable strength or power that has an effect on an object
Context: Our world is full of forces that push and pull on everything in it.
Definition: The force that attracts bodies toward the center of Earth, or towards any other physical body having mass
Context: Gravity pulls objects toward the Earth, keeping them from floating into space.
Definition: The tendency of objects to resist changes in their states of motion
Context: Inertia causes motionless objects to remain motionless and moving objects to continue moving until they come in contact with an outside force.
Definition: Physical substance or material which occupies space and has mass
Context: Almost everything around you is matter.
Definition: A substance made up of one or more atoms
Context: As matter changes from one state to another it is important to remember that changes are happening to the molecules inside the matter.
Definition: The act of changing position
Context: The marble's motion is slowed when it hits another marble.
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Credits: Tamar Burris, former elementary teacher and freelance education writer