One of the most influential scientists of all time was Isaac Newton. He pondered why things move. What speeds them up and what slows them down. He spent a great amount of his time applying the math and physics thoughts of the time to develop what he thought to be three universal hypotheses of motion. His hypotheses were tested and verified so often that they are called the Law of Motion. The first law tells us that objects like to stay in their current state of motion. Things that are at rest, like to stay that way. Objects in motion, like to stay that way too. Rest and motion will not change unless another force unbalances this object. The second law applies to the rate at which an object accelerates. He thoughts allowed us to calculate just how fast something will accelerate when we take into account the net force and the mass of the object. The third law of motion tells us forces are found in pairs. He thought that for every action there is an equal and opposite action.

This selection of reading content-based worksheets will help students learn all about Newton and how he developed these laws of motion. The series will look at each of his thoughts and dive deep into the nature and thoughts behind each law. We will look at all the variables that effect motion and apply these concepts to fun and engaging everyday models like an amusement park and athletic sporting events.

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Physics is the study of matter and motion, including how matter and motion behave with regards to energy and forces. Physics includes many subjects, like electricity, astronomy, motion, waves, sound, and light.

The main concept is called force. Force is what happens when you push or pull on an object. Force can make an object move, speed up (accelerate), slow down, stay in place and at rest, or change shape.

Acceleration describes a change in velocity, and it has two qualities: speed and direction. When acceleration and velocity point in the same direction, an object accelerates (speeds up).

Physicists measure force in a unit called the newton (N). One newton is equal to the amount of force required to make one gram of mass accelerate at the rate of one centimeter per second squared.

When we walk, and we press our foot down on the sidewalk, the sidewalk also presses back up on our foot. This force helps us to lift our feet and continue moving forward. When we simply stand still, the ground is pushing back up on us with a force equal to that of gravity, which is pulling us down.

Similarly, birds are able to fly through the air because the force of their wings pushing air downwards is equal to the force of the air pushing the bird's wings upwards.

Friction is the resistance that one surface or object encounters when moving over or against another. The force of friction always opposes the motion of an object.

There are different kinds of momentum, and each kind of momentum impacts objects in different ways. All moving objects possess momentum.

What Are Newton's Laws of Motion?

The laws proposed by Isaac Newton comprise one of the most foundational knowledge in Physics. Many of our present understandings are grounded on these three principles.

Newton's laws of motion are the laws of inertia, force and acceleration, and action and reaction. These three laws connect the concepts of force, physical objects, and the resulting motion. They also help explain more complex ideas and theories in physics.

While most physics concepts sound complicated, they can all be broken down into simple ideas. I'll discuss each law in this article and relate it to familiar examples.

First Law: Inertia

The first of the three laws of motion is the law of inertia. The full description goes like this: "An object at rest will stay at rest, and a moving object will keep moving with the same speed and in a straight line unless acted on by an unbalanced force."

In other words, objects tend to resist change as much as they can. This tendency is referred to as "inertia." To demonstrate the idea of inertia, I'll provide some examples.

Examples of Inertia

For the first premise, "an object at rest remains at rest," imagine a pencil on a table. This pencil will not roll, shift, or move unless an external force is applied to it.

An example of an external force would be if you shake the table or flick the pencil. Such forces may cause the pencil to roll or fall off the table.

Such external force must be strong enough to induce change. For instance, if you just lightly touch the pencil, you’re applying some force, but if it’s not strong enough to disturb the balance or state of equilibrium the pencil is in, then the pencil will not move.

For the second part, “an object in motion that will keep moving at a constant speed,” let's have a rolling ball as an example.

Suppose that ball was rolling along the floor; ideally, it won’t stop moving at a constant speed unless you apply an external force. However, the ball will eventually stop since many forces exist in the real world, like friction, gravity, etc.

Second Law: Force and Acceleration

The second law of motion concerns the relationship between force and acceleration. It’s summed up as an equation, F = ma, where F stands for force, m for mass, and a for acceleration.

The equation shows that acceleration has an inverse relationship with mass. The more mass or heavier an object is, the less acceleration it will experience. But, one can compensate with force, which directly correlates with acceleration.

Examples of Force and Acceleration

Suppose you have two balls rolling on the floor. The first ball is smaller with a mass (m), while the bigger ball has a mass (2m). You apply the same force (F) to both of them so they can accelerate.

Based on the equation F = ma, a = F/m. If both balls experienced the same force, the first ball would have an acceleration of a = F/m while the bigger one would have a = F/2m. In other words, the bigger ball would accelerate less and move slower than the smaller ball.

You may also experience this phenomenon when you’re pushing grocery carts around the mall. When the cart is empty, you apply less force to accelerate it. But when it's full, you must push harder.

It may seem confusing, but it simply says that force comes in pairs of opposite directions but of equal magnitude. However, such pairs may not be so apparent in real life.

Example of Action and Reaction

When you push against a table, you apply force towards the table. The equal and opposite reaction to that force would be the force from the table towards you.

However, the force from the table doesn’t necessarily mean that the table is alive and pushing you away. It doesn’t affect you or your action of pushing the table because it occurs in a different system of forces. However, it does occur as a reaction to your action.

These paired forces are better visualized when depicting free-body diagrams. These diagrams show all the forces that act on an object.

Final Thoughts

Newton's laws of motion explain many relationships in physics. Specifically, it relates forces to ideas like inertia, acceleration, and other forces. Understanding them is necessary to navigate the world of physics.