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Balloons of Motion: Exploring Newton's Three Laws

This lab uses common household items to build a balloon vehicle that demonstrate Newton's three laws of motion, specifically the inverse relationship between mass and acceleration.

Sir Isaac Newton, as all scientists should be, was a very curious man. The things around him were more than what they appeared to be, and he began investigating what made objects move. Eventually, Newton compiled his findings into three laws that describe the relationship between an object’s motion and the forces that make it move or stop. These three laws of motion have laid the foundation for understanding how and WHY objects move the ways that they do!

1. Objects at rest will remain at rest and objects in motion will remain in motion at the same speed and direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
2. The mass of an object is inversely related to its acceleration, but directly related to net force on the object. There is an equation: Force = mass x acceleration or F=ma
3. Every force has an equal and opposite force. These forces occur in action-reaction pairs.

In this lab, you will construct a balloon vehicle carrying cups that will move along a string. This simple vehicle will allow you to prove each of Newton’s three laws of motion in real time. As you conduct the lab, think about how each of Newton’s laws is being applied. This will help you with the analysis questions!

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