Thursday, March 3, 2011

For Every Action...

We recently wrapped up a science unit on force and motion. We did a rocket experiment using film canisters, water, and Alk-Seltzer tablets to demonstrate one of Newton's Three Laws of Motion. {See explanation of experiment below.} However, before we did the experiment, I had my students use their textbooks to help them fill out a foldable I made about Newton's Three Laws. They had to write the definition and illustrate each law with a real life example. I included the page numbers from our Scott Foresman science book with it, but if you wanted to use this foldable you could very easily white them out and/or write your own page numbers.

After they completed this foldable, we conducted our experiment. I had done this experiment a couple of years ago with a summer camp group I taught, but we were able to go outside then and they shot off pretty high. However, it's still winter here and we had to conduct ours inside this time so I was a tad bit concerned that we might do damage to the ceiling {although obviously not too scared as it didn't stop me from doing the experiment with them!}. I had leftover film canisters that I had gotten Walgreens to donate back when I did that summer camp I mentioned before. They were very nice about doing so especially when I told them what the canisters were to be used for so call up your local Walgreens. Tell them I sent you! ;)

I put a few paper towels on the floor and had my students sit in groups on the floor around the paper towels. I had already filled the film canisters with about a quarter of an inch of water. Then, I passed out half of an Alka-Seltzer tablet to each group. When I said "go" they had to quickly drop the tablet into the water and seal the lid {keyword being SEAL here as it must be sealed tightly until they hear it snap or it won't work}. Then, they have to turn the canister upside down so that the lid is touching the paper towel, step back, and wait for the rocket to shoot off! They thought it was the coolest thing ever and, luckily, the ceiling was fine. :)

Then we got together to discuss what happened and record our data on a lab sheet. The experiment illustrated Newton's Third Law of Motion which simply states:
"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."
action = dropping the tablet in the water
reaction = carbon dioxide was created and the pressure built up inside caused the rocket to "blast off"

I highly recommend this experiment especially as spring approaches and you can get outside with your kiddos! Have fun!

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