Table of Mechanics

Mechanics (1E): Relative Motion

Mechanics (1G): Newton's Second Law

Lecture Demonstrations

Newton's First Law

PIRA classification 1F

First law: The velocity of a body remains constant unless the body is acted upon by an external force. Another way of saying it is an object will remain (in motion or still) until an external force is applied.

28 Demonstrations listed of which 12 are grayed out.

Grayed out demonstrations are not available or within our archive and are under consideration to be added.

1F10. Measuring Inertia


Demonstration Name




Inertia Balance

Place masses on a platform supported by horizontal leaf springs.


Inertia Oscillation

A puck between two springs rolling on Dy-lite beads is timed with several different masses.


Inertia Balance w/Strobe

Use a stroboscope to measure the period of an inertia balance.


Inertia Bongs

Two large cylinders or blocks are suspended, one wood (3Kg) and one iron or steel (50Kg). Students compare displacements when struck by a hammer or just push the things around.


Unknown Bricks

A lead brick and a wooden block(balsa wood) of the same dimensions are both wrapped in aluminum foil to look identical. Each block is then hit with a hammer. Then toss the wooden block to a student.


Judging Inertial Mass

A blindfolded volunteer compares a mass on a string with a mass on a roller cart.

1F20. Inertia of Rest


Demonstration Name




Inertia Ball


A heavy ball is suspended by a piece of string with two pieces of string hanging off the bottom, all pieces being identical. One bottom string is yanked with a quick, hard jerk resulting in it breaking while the other is pulled slowly resulting in the top string breaking.


Inertia Stick

A long stick is supported from rings of filter paper at each end. Break the filter paper with a pull or the stick with a jerk.


Inertia Block

A 50 lb or larger mass is mounted on rollers. A thread will pull it but a cotton cord rope can be broken with a quick jerk.


Smash Your Hand

Place a lead block on your hand and hit it with a hammer.


Hit the Nail on the Head

Drive a nail into a large block of wood placed on a student's head.


Bed of Nails

See 1K30.10, A bed of nails is placed on the chest before smashing the block with a sledge.



An optical lever arrangement for magnifying small displacements of a large mass when the table is hit with a hammer.


Tablecloth Pull


AKA Beaker and Cloth. A beaker partially filled with water is placed on a seamless tablecloth favoring an edge. The tablecloth is quickly yanked out from under the beaker, leaving the beaker in place without spilling any water. Thus, illustrating Newton's first law.


Ball on Cart (Rest)

A ball is placed on a larger cart or dolly. When the larger cart is moved the ball moves in the opposite direction due to the ball's rest inertia.


Inertia Cylinder

Stand a 3/4" x 6" aluminum cylinder on a sheet of paper. Jerk the paper out from under the cylinder.


Card snap

Snap a card out from under a tall object, e.g., a shipping tag from under a balanced claw hammer.


Eggs and Pizza Pan

Place a pizza pan on three beakers, place cardboard tubes on the pan directly above the beakers, and eggs on the tubes. Knock out the pizza pan.


Stick on Wine Glasses

Stick needles in the ends of a 3/4" sq x 4' clear pine bar. Place the needles on wine glasses full of water and break the stick with an iron bar.


Shifted Air Track Inertia

Support an air track on wheels. Move the air track under an air glider.


Inertia Cart

A cart has a pivoting arm with different masses but the same volume at the ends. The greater mass lags behind as the cart is accelerated.


String of Weights

A string of weights connected by springs shows uneven deformation when jerked.

1F30. Inertia of Motion


Demonstration Name




Persistenceof Motion (Air Track)


A cart on a low-friction air track is given a velocity which remains roughly constant as per Newton's first law.


Air Table Puck

Air table with a puck.


CO2 Block

A large piece of dry ice on a flat formica top wetted with alcohol.


Water Hammer

A tube is evacuated except for some water. When the tube is stopped suddenly, the water strikes the end of the tube with a click.


Cart on Cart

A small cart is free to move on top of a large rolling cart which comes to a sudden stop. The cart continues to move due to the cart's inertia.


Ball on Cart (Motion)

A ball is placed on a larger cart or dolly, the two being brought to a constant speed. When the larger cart is brought to a sudden stop, the ball flies forward with the original speed in the same direction due to the ball's kinetic inertia.


Pencil and Plywood

Place a pencil in a brass tube hooked to a fire extinguisher. Fire the pencil into a 1/2" plywood board.

Table of Mechanics

Mechanics (1E): Relative Motion

Mechanics (1G): Newton's Second Law

Lecture Demonstrations



fw: Newtons1STLaw (last edited 2018-07-18 16:37:42 by srnarf)