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Force and Motion: Inertia—Newtons First Law—Pulling a Tablecloth off the Table

Such a classic trick that isn't a trick at all, it's physics. Kids can't believe I want them to try it and then they can't believe it works. They want to do it over and over. This activity is set up like a lab, but would work just as well as a station. The directions are written directly to the students so you don't have to introduce it. This is a great addition to a study of Newton's laws of motion.


Concepts Addressed

  • Objects in motion tend to remain in motion. 
  • Objects at rest tend to remain at rest. 
  • Unbalanced or outside forces produce acceleration (a change in motion).

Materials Needed  Breakable dishes and glasses; 1 m of fabric


Prep Needed  Gather supplies

Teaching Time   20-30 min


Related Labs   Motion and Newton's Law

Force and Motion: Inertia—Newtons First Law—Pulling a Tablecloth off the Table


    Answer Keys and Teacher Notes address most questions and issues that might arise in this study—you shouldn’t have to do any outside research unless you want to.

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