The Science of Movement Header

The Science of Movement

Newton's Laws of Motion

Sir Isaac Newton’s laws were first published in Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica in 1687.

Law of Inertia: An object at rest (or in motion) will continue to be in the same state unless acted upon by an external force. Objects tend to keep doing what they’re doing unless disturbed.

Force = Mass x Acceleration: An object (mass) accelerates (speeds up) when a force acts upon it. The heavier the object is, the more force it takes to start it moving. Would you need more force to move a car or a bicycle?

Third Law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When an object is pushed, it pushes back too. Think about when you sit in a chair: your body applies a force downward and that chair needs to use an equal force upward or the chair will collapse.

Many of the exhibit components in this part of the gallery exhibition were built by Markham Museum staff. Some were quite simple and others required testing during the planning stages to make sure we got it right.

Try designing your own experiments to test Newton’s Laws of Motion with materials you have around the house. Share photographs and videos of your experiments with us in Community Moves. Before you start, be sure to ask an adult for some assistance

Ball Drop

Gravity is the force that makes objects fall to the ground. It pulls things with mass (weight) or energy toward one another. The force of gravity on Earth is constant.

Turning the crank or dropping a ball from the top lets one test gravity in action! The pegs and sliders slow the balls as they drop. Can you find the fastest route down? If you drop the ball from the same spot every time, will the ball always take the same path?

The ball drop in the Markham Moves exhibition

How does gravity affect items on the ramps and roller coasters? if you change the mass or shape of an object does this affect the speed? Try these experiments at home and test your own theories.

Scarf Cannon

Pneumatics refers to using a gas to move power from one location to another. The fans in our scarf cannon push air into the system of tubes, creating air pressure that causes a linear (straight) force through the cylinder.

Why is one tube slower than the other? If gravity is constant on Earth, regardless of mass, why do leaves and feathers fall to the ground more slowly that rocks and balls?

To design this activity the museum first tested the idea using a shop vacuum, table tennis balls and scraps of fabric. If you have some of this equipment why not try to recreate this experiment at home?

Newton's Cradle

Newton’s cradle demonstrates the third law of motion. When one of the balls is lifted and released, it strikes the remaining stationary balls and sends force through all of them to push the ball on the other end away.

Watch the video to see some ways to experiment and move energy through the balls suspended from the cradle frame.

Bernoulli's Principle

Daniel Bernoulli (1700 – 1782) was a scientist studying mathematics, business and medicine. His principle, which applies to the movement of fluids, was first published in the text, “Hydrodynamica”, in 1738.

An increase in the speed of air occurs simultaneously with a decrease in air pressure.

Try building your own pneumatic system at home.

What happens to the system as you change and add new pieces?

Bernoulli Diagram

Place a ball in the tube and cover the air intake. What happens?
Bernoulli Blower air pressure diagram

What keeps the ball afloat?...
The air flowing upward holds the ball up, but what stops it from falling out the side? Bernoulli has the answer!

Bernoulli Blower With Ball Diagram
Air that moves at a higher speed has a lower pressure. The upward blowing air flows around the outside of the ball, creating a pocket of low pressure. The standing air outside this pocket has a higher pressure, and pushes the ball equally from all directions into the low pressure pocket.

Bernoulli’s Principle is important for understanding FLIGHT
Bernoulli loft diagram
LIFT and THRUST are the upward forces that together keep an airplane in the air. THRUST is the forward motion of an airplane and is powered by its engines. When an airplane moves forward, air flows over and under its wings. The shape of the wings makes air flow faster over the top. The faster flow creates lower air pressure, meaning the higher air pressure underneath the wing pushes it up, creating LIFT!

Create and fly your own paper airplane using the instructional pages provided. Try modifying your design to fly further or longer.

Build your own paper plane to test Bernoulli's Principle

Printable Museum Paper Plane Templates
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