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Investigating Newton's 3rd Law: Coin Flick

how to flick a coin

Based on an original activity found at:

In this elementary physics investigation, students explore Newton's 3rd Law of Motion: To every action there is an equal & opposite reaction. Pairs of students will line up 5 pennies, (touching each other), between 2 rulers. The row of pennies should be an inch from one end of the rulers. They will place a 6th penny on the other end between the rulers & flick it at the 5 coins. Students will repeat the activity several times. They will draw a diagram of their observations. Students will repeat the process, flicking 2 coins, then 3 coins at the row of 5 coins & drawing what they observe. Students will summarize

their understanding of the 3rd law of motion & think of another evidence and/or application of the law in their everyday lives.

Learning Goals

Goals of this activity: have students determine a useful definition for Newton's 3rd Law of Motion through observation. Skills included in the process would be controlling variables in an experiment, observing & recording data, analyzing data & applying new learning to daily experience.

Key concepts to discover: When a force is exerted an an object, the force of the reaction is equal to the force exerted upon it. This is a universal law of nature that can be evidenced & used to advantage.

Key vocabulary words: action, reaction, exert force, variable

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