Newton's Second Law

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11029

Ever need a friend to help you move something heavy? Why is it easier for two than one? Because Newton said so! Or, at least, he verbalized it in his second law. Accelerate your way through "F=ma"!


Physical Science

learning style
Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Which would clean up the pile of snow faster, a shovel or a snow plow?

Newton's second of law of motion will help you find the answer to this question!

In the previous Related Lesson, found in the right-hand sidebar, you learned about Newton's first law of motion.

Summarize this law in your own words.

  • What is a real-world example of Newton's first law?

In this lesson, you will investigate how objects move by studying Newton's second law of motion.

Print the Launcher Energy worksheet found under the Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.

For this activity, you will construct a launcher and launch several objects to examine the effects of force. Follow the instructions and record your observations on the worksheet before reading on.

  • Did you observe a relationship between the weight of the object and the distance traveled?
  • Also, was there a difference in how far the object traveled when you used half force or full force to launch the object?

You should have made the following observations and conclusions:

  • The weight of the object does affect how far it can travel. The heaviest object should have traveled the shortest distance, and the lightest object should have traveled the farthest distance.
  • The amount of force applied when launching the object also has an effect on how far the object can travel. The greater the force used to launch the object, the farther it should travel.

The concepts you observed as part of this activity coincide with Newton's second law of motion.

According to Newton's second law of motion, the acceleration, or speed, of an object is dependent upon the mass of the object and the net force of the object acting upon it.

Learn more about Newton's Second Law of Motion with this video:

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Keep learning about Newton's second law of motion by watching the National Science Foundation's video Newton's Second Law of Motion- Science of NFL Football (below). How does Newton's second law of motion relate to football?

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  • How did the activity you completed relate to Newton's second law?

Go back to the image of snow at the beginning of the lesson.

  • Which option would remove the snow the fastest?

After answering, move on to the Got It? section.

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