Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Inertia Makerspace

Newton's First Law of Motion

Teresa Randall, Bj Sneed | Published: September 7th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th
  • Subject Subject Science
  • Course Course Physical Science
  • Time Frame Time Frame 200 minutes
  • Duration More 4-5 class periods


In this lesson, students will learn how to characterize Newton's First Law of Motion as a cause-and-effect relationship and use these relationships to make predictions about how the natural world functions.

Essential Question(s)

How do the properties of inertia affect us?



Students watch "NFL video: Newton’s First Law" and use the Elbow Partner strategy to generate a list of other sports, hobbies, or activities that use inertia.


Students recreate the Minute to Win It Bottle Flip challenge. Students collect data, calculate the group average, and construct a graph to see which group was the winner.


Students watch videos of everyday examples of inertia and acquire appropriate lesson vocabulary.


Student teams use items from the Makerspace to create and present a demonstration on inertia to the class.


Students watch peer inertia demos and reflect on the lesson with an Exit Ticket.


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Bell Ringer handout (attached, 1 half-sheet per student)

  • Stick the Landing handout (attached, 1 per group)

  • Rubric (attached, 1 per group)

  • Inertia Demo Day Resources (share digitally with students)

  • Exit Ticket (attached, 1 half-sheet per student)

  • Empty water bottles (1 per group of 3 or 4 students)

  • Water

  • Timer and calculator

  • Colored pencils or markers (optional for graphing)

  • Meter stick (optional for bottle flipping)

  • Masking tape (optional for bottle flipping)

  • Chromebooks or iPads for students

  • Makerspace items (since this is an open-ended activity, bring a variety of the following items for students to choose from: index cards, decks of cards, coins, toy cars, varying sizes of plastic cups, large plastic soda bottle, marbles, dice, craft or popsicle sticks, wooden or plastic building blocks, paper plates, plastic eggs, toilet paper tubes, balls of various masses and sizes)


10 Minute(s)

Introduce the lesson's essential question and learning objectives using slides 3–4 of the attached Lesson Slides.

Go to slide 5 and give students the following prompt as a Bell Ringer: "What are some sports, hobbies, or activities that involve forces?" Give students the Bell Ringer handout, and invite them to create a list of such activities. Use the instructional strategy Elbow Partners to allow students to discuss their list with the person next to them. Then, show the video “Newton’s First Law of Motion - Science of NFL Football.”


Go to slide 6. Place students in groups of 3 or 4. Show students the “Minute to Win It ‘Stick the Landing’” video.

Give each group a Stick the Landing handout. Each student in the group should complete the challenge of flipping a water bottle 10 times in 60 seconds, and the group should record how many times each student sticks the landing. You may want to have students measure a meter stick away from the table/desk and place tape on the floor to ensure consistency among the groups. Invite students to create their own data sheet to keep track of the group members' success. Once every student in the group has played, groups will use their individual data to calculate an average for their entire group.

Go to slide 7. Leave this slide up as a reference to refresh students on how to calculate their group average. Each group should construct one bar for the classroom's graph. Once every group has added their data, announce to the entire class which group "won" the challenge by having the highest average of completed bottle flips.


Go to slide 8 and show the “Forces of Motion: The Physics of Car Crashes” video. After showing the video, ask students to identify the main point of the video or why the seatbelts helped protect the crash test dummies. Ask if there are any other car features that reduced the inertia of the crash test dummies during the crash.

Go to slide 9, and introduce each vocabulary word listed. Be sure to make references back to the football video, bottle flipping activity, and the car crash video by asking students where they saw an example of each term in those examples.


Go to slide 10, and place students in groups of 2 or 3. Give students the Rubric handout and go over it. The goal is that groups will use items from the Makerspace to create and present a demonstration on inertia. The suggested pacing for this activity is that, in one class period, teams will decide which demonstration they'll recreate, sign up with you to avoid duplication, and each student will turn in a written description and labeled sketch of their demo. Share the Inertia Demo Day Resources handout with students digitally to help them with their research, although they may choose something not on that list.

On the second day, groups should gather materials they need, practice the demonstration they've selected, and prepare for their presentations in the first 10 minutes of class. During the rest of the class period, the groups present their demonstrations. You may choose for students to video their demonstration during the 10-minute preparation period to show their peers, or if they are confident in their ability to make their demonstration work, invite them do it "live."

Sample student demonstration write-up


Slide 11 is intended for "live" demonstration performances. Depending on whether students are doing "live" or videotaped demonstrations, you may need to adjust the slide accordingly. If you are using videoed demonstrations, you may choose to show them to the entire class at the same time or allow them to watch individually on their own devices.

Go to slide 12, and have students complete an Exit Ticket. Give students the Exit Ticket handout, which asks them to summarize their favorite demonstration using the four vocabulary words: gravity, force, motion, and inertia.