Forces and Motion

Falling with ease

Classroom Activity for 5-11 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

Here you can make the point that an constrained free fall is similar to just floating along in a current (and perhaps to just drifting along in outer space). It's all kind of natural motion.

What to Prepare

  • Images of pairs of objects falling
  • Images of pairs of objects floating in a current

What Happens During this Activity

Compare and contrast the images drawing on earlier work on relative motion to explore the idea of what might be an natural motion: that is something which objects to do by themselves when left alone in the environment.

This idea of a natural motion is a central one to develop later. Here it's just worth opening up the questions. It cuts to the core of understanding the universe as Newton did rather than as Aristotle did. And there's plenty of evidence that many people reason as Aristotle did in everyday life (because that's a successful way to reason), but fail to flip to reasoning like Newton did when engaging in more formal thinking in the sciences. Imagining motion with no forces acting turns out to be hard work, and to produce counter-intuitive results.

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