Newton's Triple Play: 5E Lesson

Learn about Newton's Laws of Motion through the game of baseball. 

UNC-TV Media

Alignment to NC Essential Standards

Next Generation Science Standards
MS-PS2 Motion & Stability:  Forces & Interactions
•MS-PS2-1 Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.
•MS-PS2-2 Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object. 

NC Essential Standards
5.P.1 Understand force, motion and the relationship between them. 
•5.P.1.1 Explain how factors such as gravity, friction, and change in mass affect the motion of objects. 
•5.P.1.4 Predict the effect of a given force or a change in mass on the motion of an object. 
7.P.1 Understand motion, the effects of forces on motion and the graphical representations of motion. 
•7.P.1.2 Explain the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces acting on an object. 
PSc1.2 Understand the relationship between forces and motion.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completing this lesson, students will be able to explain and give examples of Newton’s three laws of motion.

  • Opportunities for integrating technology are given throughout the lesson.  
  • The entire lesson will take 8-10 class periods to complete.


Show students the video demonstration  Frank Spills the Beads.  Or, lead the class in a Spill the Beads DYI (20 minutes) 

Student Response

Ask the students to describe in their science notebook what they observe.  What explanations do they have for the behavior of the beads?  What forces are acting on the beads?  Let the students know that they will revisit this demonstration later.




1). Stations (80 minutes)

Students will explore how forces affect the motion of objects by completing Four Station Activites and report their findings on the Four Stations: Student Notes handout.

2) Build It (80 minutes)

Challenge the students to work in groups of 3 or 4 to build a machine that delivers a consistent force to a ball so that it rolls across the floor. Scaffold the process using the Engineering Design Process and the Build It Student Handout. Feel fee to add restrictions for space, materials and time as needed.

3) Investigate It (30 minutes)

Using the force machine they have built, students will apply forces to four balls of different masses, and record their findings on the Investigate It Student Handout.


1) Newton’s Triple Play Digital Interactive Lesson (45 minutes)

Allow one or more class periods for students to complete the Newton’s Triple Play: Baseball Science digital interactive lesson.
For details on how to use the lesson in the classroom, choose Support Materials and Teaching Tips from the lesson home page.

2) Revisit Inertia Beads and Stations (45 minutes or for homework)

After completing the digital interactive lesson, ask the students to use what they have learned about Newton’s Laws to explain the Inertia Bead demonstration.  Facilitate a class discussion to describe what forces are acting on the beads and how they affect the motion of the beads.  How do these forces cause the large arch at the top of the jar?

For homework or in class have the students describe which law(s) apply to each of the Four Station Activities they completed in the Explore section.

You can access Explain: Teacher’s Notes for this activity.


Have the students work in pairs or small groups to choose another sport with contact and collisions such as golf, soccer, football, field hockey, bowling, lacrosse, racquet sports, or some other sport. The students will create a poster, digital slide show, video or some other presentation that gives an example of each law in the chosen sport.

Each law should be properly stated and an appropriate example shown or described. Before beginning, show students the Sci NC video Science of Baseball as an example.


Show students a clip of a baseball game or other sport. Ask the students to describe at least one and up to three instances of each of Newton’s law in the given clip. Use video of a local sports team or find some other video (for example this collection of highlight reels).

Additional Resources:

Wood vs. Aluminum Bats   

The Carolina Hurricanes help explain why hockey needs physics 

Forces on a Baseball  

Baseball: From pitch to hits 

Sport Science at the Exploratorium