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Inertia Experiments for Kids

Instructor: Shelby Golden
Use these experiments to help students learn more about inertia while having fun. Get information about the supplies you need and the steps for each of these activities.

A Tale of Two Eggs

Younger kids can learn how to tell if eggs are raw or boiled with this fun inertia experiment.

Supplies:

  • Raw eggs
  • Boiled eggs

Begin by giving each student a raw egg and a boiled egg (make sure your boiled eggs are cold, just like the raw ones). Have them spin their eggs and observe their motion. The raw egg should wobble. Now have them stop their eggs. The boiled egg comes to a rest quickly, while the raw egg resists.

These differences are all down to inertia. The raw egg is moving around inside the shell, and once your students start moving it, it doesn't want to stop. Now that your students can tell their eggs apart, help them learn more about inertia and other laws of motion with this lesson on Newton's Three Laws of Motion. After your students complete the lesson, they can take the self-assessment quiz to test their knowledge of these laws.

Card and Coin

Students can complete this experiment to see the effects of inertia and how force influences it.

You'll Need:

  • Coins
  • Small cups
  • Cards (large enough to cover the mouth of the cup)

Follow These Steps:

Have students place their cards over the top of the cup and put a coin in the center of the card. They should then try to slide the card to the side quickly and levelly. If this is done properly, the coin should fall into the cup instead of following the card.

This is because of the coin's inertia. It is in one place and won't move until an outside force acts upon it. The coin falls into the cup because gravity serves as an outside force and pulls it down. Your students can find out more about the laws that govern inertia with this lesson on Newton's First Law. Not only will your students find out what inertia means and concepts related to it, with this fun video lesson, they'll also find out how this concept applies to liquids, the human body, and space!

Swinging Inertia

You can use this experiment to help your students get a better grip on understanding inertia and how it works.

Get these supplies:

  • Two cans
  • Sturdy strings
  • Sand
  • Hooks

What to Do:

Prepare for this activity by hanging your cans from the ceiling with the hooks and strings. They should be close enough that you can push them at the same time, but not touching one another. Fill one with the sand.

Now push each can. The empty can should move far more easily than the can laden with sand! Have your students take turns pushing the cans in different directions and with different amounts of force to see what happens.

This experiment helps students understand some of the laws of inertia, namely that it is forces outside of the object that causes changes (in this case pushing the cans). It also helps them see that mass can put up a resistance against these changes, as the can with sand in it is much harder to move than the empty can. Use this lesson on the laws of inertia to keep your students learning more about this subject. In addition to defining inertia, this short video lesson also goes over the effects of it and some examples of inertia in action.

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