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What Goes Up, Must Come Down

Students explored Newton's Theories.

Students in Mr. Noles’ third grade classroom got a first-hand account of the well-known saying, “What goes up, must come down,” as they spent the past several weeks delving into a science unit on forces and motion. After discussing prior knowledge of the subject, the class jumped right into learning about gravity by creating parachutes and testing them on the Sardis’ playground. Each group used coffee filters, strings, and paper clips to develop a gravity-defying design!  The students’ goal was to create a parachute that would stay in flight longer than those of their classmates before finally being brought down to earth.

The team called the Sharks won the contest by folding their four strings, which allowed the parachute’s mass to use as much of the air’s force to keep it floating the longest. “We also didn’t use the (paper clip),” said Shark member, Julian Larysz. “Because we thought it would weigh (the parachute) down. So instead, we used stickers to tie the strings together.”

Next, students got a better understanding of forces by learning about Isaac Newton and his three laws of motion. Students watched short video clips from Scholastic and then related them to real-world experiences by seeing how force, speed and motion are used in different sporting events. The highlight for some of the students was watching a video clip of two football players colliding to help give a better understanding of Newton’s third theory that states “for every action there is an opposite reaction.”

The students then put Newton’s ideas into their own words by dividing large white construction paper into two sides. One side was for their original definition, while the other showed a drawing to represent an example of one of Newton’s theories. “It helped me understand by the pictures,” said student, Alaiyah Spivey. “It gave me an example and it makes it so you know which law it is when you read it and write it, instead of someone just telling you."

Students capped off the three week exploration by seeing force’s impact on speed and momentum by pushing a marble down a ramp. Following a round of research and creation of a hypothesis, the students experimented by letting the marble role down the ramp first without a push, and then with one. The results allowed the students to realize that an object with more force will move quicker and further than an object that has little or no force pressed upon it. “I was a little surprised because (the marble) hit the wall and then jumped back,” said student Guianella Saavedra of seeing Newton’s third law in action. “I thought it was going to hit but just not go up and then bounce back (after going down the ramp).”

Written by: Lee Noles
Posted: Oct 02, 2014 by Blair Austin

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