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March 25, 2014

Newton's Cradle: momentum

We built a Newton's Cradle at Isai Ambalam. In case, the name doesn't ring a bell you can look at the video below:

We were re-connecting with the pendulum experiments for periodicity and resonance (Barton's pendulum) as a reminder for our work ongoing work on sound. The 7th graders explained the experiments they did before to the 5th graders with videos. Along with showing the videos of the experiments they did they also wanted to show some videos we had seen of stuff they didn't get around doing. One of them that had really caught their attention was the Newton's Cradle.

I have been promoting the kids to be completely comfortable with multiplication and its two associated division stories and told them that a lot of things in science follow this. The cradle served as an introduction to momentum (mass*speed) to continue on our journey (speed, density).

One of the things that limits what you can do with the cradle is that if you try too many tricks the balls no longer stay in the same plane and then the tricks do not work well. We wondered what we could do, possibly use thin enamel wire and solder it to itself to keep the balls in place, etc.

We followed this up with other momentum experiments - heavy ball rolling into light ball and vice versa, what happens to a tennis ball kept on a football when they both land on the floor and wrapped it up with a video on momentum online of stuff we can't actually do in the classroom.

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