Category Archives: Newton’s First Law

Air Pucks

Demo: ME-F-AP
Pira Index: 1F 30.11

Lab Equipment  Directions
  1. air pucks
  2. 4 AA batteries
Install batteries when setting up and remove batteries when putting away.
  1. Turn on and place on a hard surface and watch them glide.

Other experiments:

Motion on an inclined plane: Use a motion sensor to measure the acceleration of the puck as it glides down a wide inclined plane. Compare this acceleration to calculated acceleration, and to the acceleration of other objects, such as a sliding block, rolling car, or rolling ball. Attach some mass to the puck (make sure it still glides smoothly) and repeat the measurement.

Collisions and conservation of momentum and energy: Use two or three air pucks to investigate the behavior of objects in collisions. Use a motion sensor for quantitative measurements. For inelastic collisions, attach some hook-and-loop (velcro) fasteners to the bumpers.


Demo: ME-G-AC
Pira Index: 1G 20.70

 Lab Equipment  Directions
  1. accelerometer
  2. wooden cart
  3. long board for ramp
  4. wooden block
  1.  Place the accelerometer on the wooden cart (it may have been stored on the cart) and roll it along the table. Note slope of water surface as it increases its speed and at constant velocity
  2. Roll the cart down a ramp and again observe the water surface as the cart accelerates down the ramp.
  3. Optional: Accelerator Cart with pendulum:

Demonstrates: reference frames, real forces and pseudo forces


Demo: ME-F-AC
Pira Index: 1F 30.00

 Lab Equipment  Directions
  1. accelerometer
  2. wooden cart
  3. inclined plane (long ramp)
  1.  Place the accelerometer on the wooden cart and roll it along the table. Note slope of water surface as it increases its speed and at constant velocity.
  2. Roll the cart down an incline and again observe the water surface as the cart accelerates down the ramp.


Toy Truck on Lab Cart

Demo: ME-F-TT
Pira Index: 1F 30.30

 Lab Equipment  Directions
  1.  toy truck
  2. lab cart
  1.  Place the toy truck on the center of the lab cart.
  2. Quick forward motion of the cart causes opposite movement of the truck.
  3. When the cart decelerates abruptly, the truck moves forward.
  4. When the cart moves at a constant rate (no acceleration) the truck does not move on the cart.


Pop Bottle Inertia

Demo: ME-F-PB
Pira Index: 1F 20.33

 Lab Equipment  Directions
  1.  2 two-liter bottles
  2. dollar bill
  3. water
  1.   Fill one of the bottles halfway with water.
  2. Put the two bottles neck to neck with the dollar bill in between and the water in the bottom bottle.
  3. Now invert the bottles so that the water is in the top bottle.
  4. Hold the dollar taut and at a slight downward slant.
  5. Strike the bill between the bottle and your other hand.
  6. The dollar bill should come out and the water flow into the lower bottle.


Newtonian Table Cloth

Demo: ME-F-NT
Pira Index: 1F 20.30

 Lab Equipment  Directions
  1.  cup and saucer
  2. glass
  3. plate
  4. tablecloth with no hem on one side
  5. silverware
  1.  Set up the demonstration by placing the tablecloth on a table with the hemless side furthest from the demonstrator.
  2. Place the dishes on the tablecloth.
  3. Rapidly pull the tablecloth slightly down and outward.
  4. Note that the heavier the dishes should be glazed on the bottom to enable the tablecloth to slip easily from under them.
  5. Practice is recommended.


Newtonian Egg Drop

Demo: ME-F-NE
Pira Index: 1F 20.36

 Lab Equipment  Directions
  1.  3 tall 1000 ml beakers (identical)
  2. 3 short PVC tubes
  3. 3 rubber balls (or eggs)
  4. pizza pan
  5. special blue tray
  6. rubber mallet
  7. 1 gal container of water
  1.  Carefully arrange the beakers on marked tray and fill each with approx. 800 ml of water (optional). Center the pizza pan on top.
  2. Align the tubes so that each is centered over one of the beakers.
  3. Place the balls (or eggs) atop of each tube.
  4. Do a final check from each side for center alignment of the tubes over the beakers.
  5. Hit the edge of the pizza pan with the mallet so that the pan flies out horizontally and the balls drop into the beakers.

Moment of Inertia

Demo: ME-F-MI
Pira Index: 1F 20.10

 Lab Equipment  Directions
  1.  Lab stand
  2. short metal rod
  3. 90 degree clamp
  4. 2 rolls of toilet paper
  5. 2 binder clips
  1.  Set up equipment as shown.
  2. Pull toilet paper on one side down rapidly. Pull the other side down slowly.
  3. What was the difference? Why?


Lead Brick and Hammer

Demo: ME-F-LB
Pira Index: 1F 20.20

 Lab Equipment  Directions
  1.  lead brick (clear plastic covered)
  2. hammer (use large hammer)
  1.  Place the lead brick gently on your hand and strike the lead brick with the hammer. The inertia off the lead brick prevents injury to your hand.
Caution: Injury can occur when a single finger is used. Be careful!


Johnson Pendulum

Demo: ME-F-JP
Pira Index: 1F 30.00

 Lab Equipment  Directions
  1.  Johnson Pendulum
  1.  To observe planar pendulum movement, pull metal ball to one side and release.
  2. Now rotate the platform slowly.
  3. Observe that the pendulum continues to move in the same vertical plane.
  4. To observe conical pendulum motion, set the metal ball to rotating in a clockwise direction.
  5. Now rotate the platform slowly counterclockwise.
  6. Observe that the ball continues to rotate in the same direction.