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written by Julien Sprott
This page contains procedures for setting up 20 demonstrations relating to motion.  Designed for use in the introductory physics classroom, each demonstration is written in a lesson-plan format and has been fully tested in the classroom.  The items were selected for inclusion because they are enjoyable, highly illustrative of key concepts taught in a classical mechanics course, and for simplicity of set-up.  This resource is part of a larger collection by the same author.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Applications of Newton's Laws
- Motion in One Dimension
- Motion in Two Dimensions
General Physics
- Collections
- Equipment
- High School
- Collection
- Instructional Material
= Instructor Guide/Manual
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Laboratory
- New teachers
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© 1996 Julien Sprott
motion demonstrations, physics demonstrations
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created April 30, 2007 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
January 28, 2014 by Caroline Hall

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Forces and Motion (PS2.A)
  • The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (6-8)
  • Newton's second law accurately predicts changes in the motion of macroscopic objects. (9-12)
Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer (PS3.B)
  • When the motion energy of an object changes, there is inevitably some other change in energy at the same time. (6-8)
  • Conservation of energy means that the total change of energy in any system is always equal to the total energy transferred into or out of the system. (9-12)
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transported from one place to another and transferred between systems. (9-12)
Relationship Between Energy and Forces (PS3.C)
  • When two objects interact, each one exerts a force on the other that can cause energy to be transferred to or from the object. (6-8)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Energy and Matter (2-12)
  • The transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system. (6-8)
  • Within a natural or designed system, the transfer of energy drives the motion and/or cycling of matter. (6-8)
  • The total amount of energy and matter in closed systems is conserved. (9-12)
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed—it only moves between one place and another place, between objects and/or fields, or between systems. (9-12)

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4E. Energy Transformations
  • 6-8: 4E/M1. Whenever energy appears in one place, it must have disappeared from another. Whenever energy is lost from somewhere, it must have gone somewhere else. Sometimes when energy appears to be lost, it actually has been transferred to a system that is so large that the effect of the transferred energy is imperceptible.
  • 6-8: 4E/M2. Energy can be transferred from one system to another (or from a system to its environment) in different ways: 1) thermally, when a warmer object is in contact with a cooler one; 2) mechanically, when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance; 3) electrically, when an electrical source such as a battery or generator is connected in a complete circuit to an electrical device; or 4) by electromagnetic waves.
4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
  • 9-12: 4F/H1. The change in motion (direction or speed) of an object is proportional to the applied force and inversely proportional to the mass.
  • 9-12: 4F/H4. Whenever one thing exerts a force on another, an equal amount of force is exerted back on it.
  • 9-12: 4F/H7. In most familiar situations, frictional forces complicate the description of motion, although the basic principles still apply.
  • 9-12: 4F/H8. Any object maintains a constant speed and direction of motion unless an unbalanced outside force acts on it.

This resource is part of 2 Physics Front Topical Units.

Topic: Kinematics: The Physics of Motion
Unit Title: Special Collections

This page contains procedures for setting up 20 demonstrations relating to motion.   All demos have been fully tested in the classroom and were selected for inclusion because they are engaging, require minimal set-up, and are highly illustrative of key concepts taught in introductory classical mechanics.  Historical anecdotes and commentary add to the depth of this unique resource.

Link to Unit:

Topic: Dynamics: Forces and Motion
Unit Title: Applications of Newton's Laws

This resource directs teachers in the set-up of 20 engaging demonstrations relating to motion/mechanics.  The materials include motion in one and two dimensions, coupled pendulum motion, rotational motion, and more.  The author selected each demonstration for its "attention-getting" appeal and its ability to provoke thought about specific mechanical processes.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
J. Sprott, (1996), WWW Document, (http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/demobook/chapter1.htm).
J. Sprott, Julien Sprott's Physics Demonstrations - Motion (1996), <http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/demobook/chapter1.htm>.
APA Format
Sprott, J. (1996). Julien Sprott's Physics Demonstrations - Motion. Retrieved May 18, 2024, from http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/demobook/chapter1.htm
Chicago Format
Sprott, Julien. Julien Sprott's Physics Demonstrations - Motion. 1996. http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/demobook/chapter1.htm (accessed 18 May 2024).
MLA Format
Sprott, Julien. Julien Sprott's Physics Demonstrations - Motion. 1996. 18 May 2024 <http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/demobook/chapter1.htm>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Julien Sprott", Title = {Julien Sprott's Physics Demonstrations - Motion}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {18 May 2024}, Year = {1996} }
Refer Export Format

%A Julien Sprott %T Julien Sprott's Physics Demonstrations - Motion %D 1996 %U http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/demobook/chapter1.htm %O text/plain

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %A Sprott, Julien %D 1996 %T Julien Sprott's Physics Demonstrations - Motion %V 2024 %N 18 May 2024 %9 text/plain %U http://sprott.physics.wisc.edu/demobook/chapter1.htm

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