Colonial Middle School (CMS) students spent nearly an hour in the library launching erasers, playing with blocks and marbles, and swinging around open containers of paint — in order to better understand Newton's Laws of Motion. 

students staking blocks and cards at a small round table


The sixth grade science classes rotated through four activity centers looking for the three laws developed by Sir Isaac Newton more than 300 years ago. 

"It's helping us understand Newton's laws more, because it's showing examples we can relate to," said CMS Sixth Grader Rosie Ounsworth. 

At Marble Maze, students created paper and pipe cleaner obstacles on a paper plate and demonstrated Newton's first law of motion by showing how a marble moves in a straight line unless a force changes its path. Pendulum Painting and Tumbling Towers also focused largely on Newton's First Law. 

"I liked the blocks," said CMS Sixth Grader Jacob Ingram. "You make a tower of blocks with cards between them and then you pull the cards out. The blocks don't move if you pull each card out fast enough. I just thought it was fun to try to beat the record of the person who did it before me who had nine blocks in their tower. I like a challenge."

At Flipping Flyers, students could see all three laws in action as they used popsicle sticks, spoons and rubber bands to make catapults and launched small erasers at targets on the wall. 

"It's fun," said CMS Sixth Grader Chris Gekonge. "We got to build things, instead of just talking and listening about what we're learning."

While this lesson falls under STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) simply by being a science lesson, the project also included other aspects of STEAM, including hands-on learning, real-world connections and the Four Cs (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Critical Thinking). 

Three students looking at paint splatter pattern on drop cloth.


Newton's Laws of Motion are:

  1. An object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion, with the same direction and speed. Motion (or lack of motion) cannot change without an unbalanced force acting on it. 

  2. The acceleration of an object produced by a force is directly related to the magnitude of the force, the same direction as the force, and inversely related to the mass of the object. 

  3. For every action (force) there is an equal and opposite reaction (force). Forces are found in pairs.