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This is Nothing New(ton)


Written by: Jed Cersosim, Angela Charalampopoulos, Guerline Cothia, & Maria Stoessel

Topic: Newton’s First Law of Motion (Inertia)

Grade level/s: Grade 8

Time needed:  One 45-minute period  

Background: The teacher should be able to distinguish between Newton’s three Laws of Motion.  The references provided at the end of this lesson plan provide good sources of information via textbooks and useful links, which can serve as a foundation for this topic.


Students will be able to: 

·         Analyze the various scenes in the movie clips.

·         Provide a written description of their observations.

·         Compare and contrast the various clips with each other.

·         Discuss their finding with their classmates in order to find a common link with their finding.

·         Compare their findings to Newton’s First Law of Motion.

·         Define Inertia.

·         Identify various forces acting on an object.

·         Write down examples of how Newton’s Law of Inertia has occurred in their life and draw a picture to go along with their idea.

National Science Education Standards:  NS.5-8.1 Physical Science:  Motion and Force

NYS Learning Standard:  Standard 4: The Physical Setting

Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.

Key Idea 5:  Energy and matter interact through forces that result in changes in motion.

Performance Indicator 5.1c: An object’s motion is the result of the combined effect of all forces acting on the object. A moving object that is not subjected to a force will continue to move at a constant speed in a straight line. An object at rest will remain at rest.


NYC Standards



How do we apply the laws of motion to explain the movement of objects on Earth?


• Newtons First Law of Motion: Inertia PS 5.1c

Materials: Computer with Internet access, Projector, Handout, Motivational Video Clips http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/liv2ftfire/, & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQnob49z_8E


1.  Students will answer the following: (prior to the start of the lesson while attendance is taken) Do Now:  Make a list of what comes to mind when you think about Newton’s Laws of Motion.

2.  We will have a class discussion in order to ascertain what the students already know about Newton’s Laws of Motion. (3-5 minutes)

3.  Motivation: (2 minutes) The class will be shown an animation from the following site: http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/liv2ftfire/312764, and asked to hypothesize which one of Newton’s Laws is represented by the animation based on what they already know about Newton’s Laws of Motion.  The students will document their answer on a piece of paper, and refer to it later on in the lesson.

4.  The video “This is Nothing New(ton)” will be shown to the class (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQnob49z_8E) and paused at the appropriate times so that the students can have time to analyze, write down, and discuss the various events that they witness in the video.  (15 minutes) 

a. For example, the video will be paused at the point where the table cloth is pulled out, and the students will be asked:  What do you think that Newton was thinking when the table cloth was pulled out?  What did you notice?

Possible answers:  The materials on the table didn’t fly off the table.  Everything on the table stayed in place, or the materials were at rest and they remained at rest.

b. The students will view various experiments in the video and work in groups of 2 or 3 students in order to write a description of their observations, and then compare & contrast the various experiments with each other. 

c. Each group will discuss their findings with the class in order to find a common link.

Possible answers:  The objects in motion remained in motion and the objects at rest remained at rest until an unbalanced force acted on them.

5.  Mini Lesson:  (8 minutes) Students will view the explanation of Newton’s first law of motion as he discusses his idea with the skeleton in the video clip.  The clip will explain what the word “inertia” means and how it relates to Newton’s first law. Finally, students will be asked to identify the unbalanced forces in each of the demonstrations.

Possible answers for the unbalanced forces (Force = a push or a pull on an object) include:  The teacher that pushed on the car to start it rolling, Friction (the force that opposes motion) caused the car to slow down and stop.  The ground and wall pushed back on the bowling ball and car, respectively, with an equal but opposite force, the index card pushed up on the coin and the coin pushed back down on the index card with an equal, but opposite force.  Gravity pulled the bowling ball towards the ground, and it also pulled the coin down in the beaker. 

6.  At the end of the lesson students will return to their original hypothesis to determine whether or not they had correctly identified Newton’s first law of motion at the beginning of the class.

7.  Closure:  (10-15 minutes) Students will work with a partner to brainstorm how Newton’s Law of Inertia has occurred in their lives and draw a picture to go along with their idea.  Students will present their examples of how Newton’s Law of Inertia has occurred in their life via their drawings, which they will show to the teacher and their classmates. 

Adapatations for students with disabilities:


·         Use the motivational video, and the instructional video.

·         Present the lesson in two periods, rather than one period in order to slow down the pace of the lesson.

·         Rephrase content areas or questions to make the lesson more easily understood.

Hearing Impairments:

·         Speak and read clearly in a normal tone and at a moderate pace.

·         Seat the student close to teacher with the good ear facing the teacher’s voice.

·         Rephrase content areas or questions to make the lesson more easily understood.

·         Repeat and summarize information when presented orally.

Vision Impairments:

·         Order specialized materials such as closed circuit television and computer software with enlarged fonts and pictures. Also scan and enlarge the material for the student.

·          Provide audiocassettes/CDs with variable recording speeds for the student’s assignment. (Visual fatigue often occurs during activities requiring continuous use of visual skills).

·          Touch is important for visually impaired students. Provide hands-on experience whenever possible.

Multicultural Connections: Students should look up the origin of the word “inertia” to see if it has a Latin or Greek origin.

Possible ways technology might be incorporated:  Students can create their own videos in reference to Newton’s Laws of Motion, a Power-Point presentation, or they can make an animation on Scratch.mit.edu, or Squeakland ETOYS.

Assessment: Throughout the lesson the students will be asked questions to make sure that the concepts are understood. Students will also demonstrate a grasp of Newton’s First Law of Motion from their drawings, which will be collected and hung up for display on the classroom bulletin board. 

Extension activities: Students can go online to research various websites in reference to Newton’s Laws of Motion.  For example, students can look up Newton’s Laws of Motion on youtube.com to see if other people have posted their own videos on Newton’s Laws in order to compare and contrast those examples to the ones that they viewed in class, and to the ones that they drew in their pictures. 


Feather et al. (2006)  Physical Science With Earth Science.  Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.

Columbus, OH pp. 98-114.

Maton et al. (1999)  Exploring Physical Science.  Prentice-Hall.  Upper Saddle River, NJ. 

pp 329-335.

(2008).  Retrieved November 19, 2008, from http://www.glenbrook.k12.il.us/gbssci/phys/Class/newtlaws/u2l1a.html 

(2008).  Retrieved November 19, 2008, from http://id.mind.net/~zona/mstm/physics/mechanics/forces/newton/newton.html


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Copyright © 2008  Jed Cersosim, Angela Charalampopoulos, Guerline Cothia, & Maria Stoessel