Newton's 2nd law: Inquiry approach
In this lab activity, students act as fellow scientists and colleagues of Isaac Newton. He has asked them to independently test his ideas on the nature of motion, in particular his 2nd Law. The emphasis here is on the process of science rather than the actual results. Students need to focus on how they would design a procedure to test Newton's hypothesis and then communicate that idea to others.
Students will learn that:
- Science deals with the natural world and natural explanations.
- The process of science involves observation, exploration, discovery, testing, communication, and application.
- Scientists decide on their own methods of investigation.
- Experimentation involves controlled manipulation of variables in order to establish causal relationships.
- Scientists organize data in tables and display data visually in graphs.
- Scientists aim for their observations and tests to be replicable.
- Multiple trials of an experiment are required to see patterns in the data. Scientists decide how many trials to run.
- Error is present in every scientific experiment.
- Scientific experimentation does not prove a relationship between variables.
Context for Use
Description and Teaching Materials
Teaching Notes and Tips
Within this activity, Newton's 2nd Law is referred to as a hypothesis as the students are supposed to be acting as contemporaries and testing his ideas.
Instructions have purposely been kept to a minimum to that students come up with their own ideas rather than follow a specified method. You may need to add further guidance for some students.