For Kids

Science Experiment: Newton's First Law of Motion


Pull It Push It

Physicists study matter - all of the "stuff" in the universe and how that "stuff" moves. One of the most famous eggphysicists of all time was Sir Isaac Newton. Sir Isaac is most famous for explaining gravity, a concept we are so familiar with now it seems obvious to us. He is also famous for explaining how stuff moves, his Three Laws of Motion. Today we are going to look at Newton's First Law of Motion called Inertia.

Newton's First Law of Motion (Inertia): A still object will stay still unless a force pushes or pulls it. A moving object will stay moving unless a force pushes or pulls it.

Gravity and friction are forces that constantly push and pull the "stuff" on earth. So, when we roll a ball, it slowly comes to a stop. On the moon, where there is less gravity and friction, "stuff" floats, and keeps floating.

You can try two Inertia Experiments at home:

For The Tablecloth Trick You Will Need:

  • Drinking Glasses (non-breakable!)
  • a Plate (non-breakable!)
  • a Piece of Frabric or Tablecloth with NO HEM
  • Water
  • a Table

The items on the tablecloth - the drinking glasses full of water and the plate - are not moving. According to Newton's law they should stay still unless a force pushes or pulls them. When you pull the tablecloth out from under them friction is a force that causes the plate to move just a little, but since the cloth is slippery it pulls right out, leaving the plate and glasses full of water in place.

For The Egg Drop You Will Need:

  • Egg
  • Toilet Paper Tube
  • Pie Pan
  • Drinking Glass
  • Water

In The Egg Drop the egg is not in motion, it is at rest. According to Newton's law it should stay that way. When you slap the pan away you apply force to the pan and it moves, knocking out the toilet paper tube also, but you did not hit the egg so it stays in place. It DOES drop though, since the support of the toilet paper tube is gone gravity acts on the egg and pulls it toward the earth.

Websites, Activities & Printables:

Science in ContextScience in Context: Newton’s First Law of Motion (Inertia) is a database you can use in any IndyPL Library Branch or at home. Login using your IndyPL library card number. The Science in Context database will show you articles, images and videos to help you learn about Newton’s First Law.


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Junk Drawer ScienceScience Stunts Fun Feats of PhysicsWho Was Isaac Newton?Lives of the ScientistsWhat Are Newton's Laws of Motion?Can You Feel the Force?Give It a Push Give It a PullIsaac Newton Discoverer of GravityGiants of Science Isaac NewtonIsaac the AlchemistPhysics Investigate the Mechanics of NatureProfessor Astrocat's Atomic Adventure a Journey Through PhysicsYou Wouldn't Want to be Sir Isaac NewtonIsaac Newton and Physics for Kids

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