Newton's Laws Demonstrations

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In this collection of demonstrations, learners explore Newton's Laws of Motion. These seventeen quick activities investigate air resistance, acceleration, terminal velocity, inertia, action-reaction, and other key concepts related to forces and motion. These demonstrations can be coupled together or conducted individually.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Demonstration


Materials List (per group of students)

  • heavy object (wood or metal - bundle of keys, piece of wood, etc.)
  • sheets of paper
  • book
  • four 3x5 cards or flat-bottomed Mr.Coffee-style coffee filters
  • 4 film canisters
  • steel ball
  • glass marble
  • tall container (e.g. large graduated cylinder, clear tennis ball container, etc.)
  • Karo Syrup (light, not dark)
  • paper towels
  • 3x5 card
  • drinking glass
  • coin
  • oilcloth or smooth plastic tablecloth
  • dishes and/or glasses
  • two identical masses (approximately 200 g or greater) that have places to tie a thread or light string to them on both the top and bottom
  • thread or light string
  • cross-bar
  • cushioning (e.g. foam rubber, jacket, or bunch of plastic shopping bags stuffed inside a single bag)
  • two rolls of toilet paper (one full and one almost empty)
  • horizontal rod or dowel
  • two masses that have the same geometrical and textural feel but somewhat different in mass (e.g. two film cans, one filled with pennies, the other half-filled)
  • chair or table
  • embroidery hoop
  • spice jar or other container with similar size opening
  • 5 or 6 wood blocks - each about 5 in long, cut from a relatively smooth-surfaced 2x4
  • meter stick or other suitable
  • half a manila file folder
  • tape
  • marshmallows (large size)
  • flour


  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Momentum and Velocity
      • Acceleration
      • Newton's Laws
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Rathjen, Don


  • All rights reserved, Exploratorium, 2007