Demonstrating Newton's Third Law with two force sensors

INVESTIGATE NEWTON'S THIRD LAW OF MOTION

INVESTIGATE NEWTON'S THIRD LAW OF MOTION
Present a difficult concept with ease.

  • Give an elegant demonstration of Newton's Third Law using PASCO probeware.
  • Results are immediate and work every time.
  • Works as a convincing class demonstration or group activity.

The Teaching Challenge

Newton's Third Law of Motion, in his own words:

To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction; or, mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directly to contrary parts.
Physics teachers know Newton's Third Law of Motion is one of the most misunderstood and misused laws of physics. This stems largely from Newton’s use of the word “action,” which, using modern terminology, would be replaced by “force.” Rewriting the law using this, and other modern phrasing, gives:

To every force there is always opposed an equal reaction force; or, mutual forces of two bodies upon each other are always equally strong, and in opposite directions.

Getting students to think of Newton’s Third Law as involving forces, and not actions, can be tricky, but PASCO’s probeware can help.

The PASCO Solution

Because Newton’s Third Law deals with the interaction between two objects, you need a way to measure the force involved in that interaction. Our Force Sensors and Xplorer GLX Probeware or DataStudio software can be used to demonstrate those forces with speed, clarity and elegance.

Solution at a Glance

    Qty.
Xplorer GLX (PS-2002) $369 1
PASPORT Force Sensor (PS-2104) $110 1
1.2 m PAScar Dynamics System (ME-6955) $269 1
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This solution also requires software and an interface or a standalone datalogger. For more information or to order products separately, see below.

How It Works

Using this system, teaching Newton's Third Law is easy.

As a demonstration:
One person holding two force sensors connected to a probeware system --or two volunteers each holding one force sensor--can quickly and convincingly demonstrate the law. Just run a rubber band between the sensors, project the data plot on a screen, and go. Telling the person or people holding the sensors to make one pull less hard than the other makes this activity especially instructive!

As an experiment:
A quick and straightforward experiment for Newton's Third Law can be run using probeware and one of our Dynamics Systems. Teaching Newton's Third Law this way has the benefit of clearly showing the mass of the objects don't matter because each mass can be varied and the results are still the same.
Instructions for the lab are provided below in Microsoft Word and PDF formats, along with an Xplorer GLX file to get things up and running quickly.

Newton's Third Law DataStudio screen

Data from two force probes illustrate Newton's Third Law

Downloads

Ordering Products Separately

U.S. Educator prices shown.

Demonstrate Newton's Third Law using our Xplorer GLX

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Xplorer GLX (PS-2002) - $369

The Xplorer GLX is a data collection, graphing, and analysis tool designed for science students and educators.

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PASPORT Force Sensor (PS-2104) - $110

Designed to measure both pulling and pushing forces. Uses range from collisions to tug-of-war. For use with PASPORT Interfaces.

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Demonstrate Newton's Third Law using a computer and our DataStudio software

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DataStudio Software (Site License) (CI-6871G) - $359

The award-winning DataStudio is the only software you need to collect, display and analyze scientific data. Site License.

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PASPORT Force Sensor (PS-2104) - $110

Designed to measure both pulling and pushing forces. Uses range from collisions to tug-of-war. For use with PASPORT Interfaces.

Learn more

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SPARKlink (PS-2009A) - $139

Connect two PASPORT sensors to your computer or tablet through a USB connection.

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Add this to explore Newton's Third Law experimentally

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1.2 m PAScar Dynamics System (ME-6955) - $269

Equip your lab with carts and a high-quality 1.2 m aluminum track.

Includes:
  • PAScar (Set of 2) (ME-6950)
  • Track, 1.2 m
  • Dynamics Track End Stop (2 Pack) (ME-8971)
  • Track Rod Clamp (ME-9836)
  • PAScar Mass 250g (ME-6756)
  • Dynamics Track Feet (Pair) (ME-8972)
  • Experiment Manuals

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Software & Interface Options

This activity also requires software and an interface or a standalone datalogger.

Software options:

Interface options:

Standalone Options: