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Isaac Newton - Famous Scientist Year 5

Updated: Jan 19

Activity 1

Isaac Newton changed the world forever! That doesn't happen often but Newton was a genius who, like Sir Francis Bacon, thought that scientists should not just believe what past scientists have told them. They thought that by questioning, observing and carrying out experiments they could improve their knowledge of the natural world and lead better life. This was an idea that fuelled the developments during the Enlightenment period of European history, the 1600's and 1700's.

Go and watch this Absolute Genius episode from the BBC.

Find out a little more about Newton in this SciTube BBC show.

Print out the Isaac Newton Fast Fact sheet and fill in the three laws of motion as you work through the unit. Just print out one page either the high colour or the low colour option.

Activity 2

We are going to look at the three laws of Newton through three different experiments.

Newton's First Law of Motion is pretty straightforward. It can be summarised in two sentences.

An object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted on by unbalanced forces.

An object moving at a constant velocity tend to stay moving unless acted on by unbalanced forces.

Look around you there is a lot of evidence of this. You know that the coffee table is not just going to move, someone or something has to apply a pushing or pulling force to move it. Your book will stay on the table where you left it unless someone or something applies a pushing or pulling force to move it.

If we set a car moving on a straight, flat road at a particular speed it will continue moving unless someone applies the brake or it crashes into something.

We are pretty good at predicting how objects will behave even if we are not very good at understanding the scientific reason why!

The property of objects to remain in the state of motion they are in is called inertia.

Take a look at this Science Max video. The section explaining inertia is at the start it is up to you if you want to watch the rest of the video.

Go here and complete the block experiment and then try it again with objects with a greater and lesser mass. Use the recording sheets to record what you have done and the results.

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An object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted on by unbalanced forces.

An object moving at a constant velocity tend to stay moving unless acted on by unbalanced forces.

Inertia is the property of objects to remain in the state of motion they are in.

Activity 3

Newton's Second Law of Motion.

You will usually see this law written as an equation. You do not need to remember this equation now but you will use it in secondary school science so I will put it here for you.

F = ma

Force = mass x acceleration

The interesting thing about the second law is what it means for falling objects.

You are going to need a grown-up to help you with this experiment.

You will need a tennis ball and a football.

  1. Go with your grown-up to a second storey window or a climbing tree.

  2. Take both balls and hold one in each hand.

  3. For the open window or in the tree drop both balls at the same time.

  4. Which ball hits the floor first? Try this with other types of balls.

  5. Then take a bowl of icing sugar and place it on the floor.

  6. Drop a tennis ball from the window or up the tree into the icing sugar.

  7. Using the same size bowl and the same amount of icing sugar, drop a different ball into the bowl.

  8. Compare the craters created. Is one deeper? Which one?

From this experiment, you should be able to see that all balls dropped at the same time from the same height will hit the floor at the same time no matter what their mass (how heavy) they are. However, the craters for the heavier balls, the balls with more mass should be bigger and deeper. This shows that even though the balls hit the floor at the same time the one with more mass hits the ground with more force. It is going to hurt your head more if that ball lands on your head!

You know some of this naturally because when you go to kick a big heavy football you kick it harder, you use more force, than when you kick a small ping-pong ball. However, sometimes with physics, the rules do not seem to make sense. It seems that a bowling ball should hit the floor before a tennis ball but as you have found out that is not the case.

Activity 4

Newton's Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

This means that forces come in pairs. If you push a skateboard to the left and your friend to the right and you both use the same amount of force then no matter how much force you use the skateboard will not move. If you apply more force than your friend then the skateboard will move to the left.

Why don't you try this out with some marbles at home?

Now you know all about Newton and his three laws of motion.

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