Galileo theorized that in the absence of any other force, a moving object will continue to move. He called this resistance to changes in motion, inertia. Sir Isaac Newton later polished this concept – turning it into his first law, the Law of Inertia. From his Principia: Every object continues in a state of rest or of uniform speed in a straight line unless acted on by a nonzero net force. In other words, if an object is moving in a direction, it will continue to move in that direction unless another force is exerted upon it. Likewise, if an object is in a state of rest, the law of inertia requires the object to stay in that state unless another force is exerted upon it.
In the following dramatization, your students will see an extreme example of Newton's First Law in action! We aren't sure if this REALLY occurred without some help from Hollywood, but it certainly gets the point across.
NOTE: This movie was proven "fake" on Mythbusters, but it's still a fun way to demonstrate Newton's law of inertia.
Check out the products from Arbor Scientific below for the Inertia Apparatus – a great way to demonstrate Newton's First Law – and other items that illustrate other Newtonian Laws!
Demonstrate inertia and Newton's First Law in a memorable way!
This classic apparatus is standard for a reason – it works, and it's impressive! Rest the ball on top of the square that is set on the vertical post. Release the spring and the square is projected out. The ball falls into place on the post, remaining at rest as if nothing happened.
This cool little UFO is the easiest-to-fly R/C flyer we've ever seen! It only goes up and down, so there's no tricky coordination required. Its compact size – just 5" high – makes it perfect for classroom demos. Incorporate it into your lessons, or let your students independently discover the numerous principles involved in the technology.
- Newton's Third Law: The rotors push air downward, and the air exerts an upward force on the rotors.
- Rotational Motion: Counter-rotation of parts shows conservation of angular momentum and provides vertical stability.
- Light and Waves: Infrared controller communicates commands. See the IR signals with a digital camera!
To operate, plug the flyer into the charging base. (8 AA batteries not included. We recommend using rechargeable batteries.) A 20-30 minute charge lets you fly for about 8 minutes. Maximum height of over 20 feet.
Air Puck Physics Kit
Demonstrate Newton's Laws, energy, and momentum with the amazing new Air Puck! It's perfectly balanced and glides on a cushion of air for nearly frictionless motion across any smooth surface. Sturdy bumpers will survive collisions with walls, shoes, or other Air Pucks. Each puck is powered by 4 AA batteries, not included. One set of 4 alkaline batteries will provide power for approximately 4 ten minute labs. Puck is 7.5″ diameter x 2.5″ tall.
Perfect to study conservation of momentum in one and two dimensions!