Slow Motion Videos

First and foremost, I have to give my husband credit for this idea...sort of. 
(He insisted.)

The other night, we had Family STEM Night at our school (but that's another post for another day). One of the activities that students got to try had to do with an object's center of mass. My husband (whose phone is permanently attached to his hand) decided to record our kids using the slow motion feature of his camera. It was actually pretty cool. I had honestly never thought to use that feature on my phone before. Hence, he gets to claim credit for the idea...sort of.
Teacher Tech Tip Hack: Using slow motion videos to teach about Newton's Law of Inertia. Student activity that shows the impact inertia and gravity have on a moving object.
I'm currently teaching students about forces, motion, friction, and energy. I absolutely LOVE teaching about Newton's 3 Laws of Motion. Every year I collect so many ideas for demonstrations, videos, and lab activities on my Forces & Motion Pinterest board that I have a hard time making a choice of what I will actually use!

This week, I was gathering supplies for teaching about inertia. I showed students a StudyJams video about inertia. (I love StudyJams - and they are FREE!) Students read part of an article that gave some examples of how Newton's First Law of Motion is applied. I described a situation that most students had experienced while riding in a car and going around a sharp curve. But inertia is a really tricky concept for fifth graders.

Most of them could relate to the idea that an object at rest would remain at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. BUT imagining a world without friction where an object continued in the same direction at the same speed forever was too much for their little brains. ;)

So I grabbed my phone, a tennis ball, and a big plastic bucket and presented them with this challenge:
Teacher Tech Tip Hack: Using slow motion videos to teach about Newton's Law of Inertia. Student activity that shows the impact inertia and gravity have on a moving object.
Oh, boy! Were they ever stoked about this challenge. Especially the boys. They were SURE that it was super easy. How hard could it be, after all? So we went outside and I chose one of the more obnoxious excited volunteers to go first. I gave a few specific directions.

1. The student MUST run at top speed and NOT slow down when they reach the bucket.
2. The student MUST hold the tennis ball so that it can be released (without adding any force) into the bucket.

Then I recorded them.
In slow motion.

The first couple students were so darn mad. They had no idea why the ball kept missing the bucket. The rest of the students watched and started coming up with ideas. To be fair, some were actually successful. After 4-5 attempts, I took everyone back into the classroom to watch the "slow motion replay" of the challenge. It was A-MAZ-ING to see the looks of surprise and sudden understanding of what was happening. 

They watched as each student slooooooooooowly approached the bucket, dropped the tennis ball, and it continued to fall at a diagonal trajectory. 
That's inertia, baby!

Here's another one.
I can't get over how cool it is to watch!

Table talk time.
Students discussed and then shared answers to these questions...
What the heck was going on?
Why didn't the ball fall straight into the bucket?
What happened to gravity?
What real-world applications does Newton's Law of Inertia have?

Best. Lesson. Ever. (well, at least this week)

So, the moral of the story?
Listen to your husband. Hahahahaha!
The real moral of the story?
Use the technology at your fingertips. Even the simple camera on my iPhone worked wonders.

Need more ideas for teaching about Newton's Laws of Motion?
Check out my Forces & Motion board here:


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