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More About Newton: Action-Reaction (Directions, Please!)


The Task
Students participate in their own investigation of force interactions. Then take an up-close-and-personal view of action-reaction forces. Students draw pictures and write about their action-reaction experiences. They use arrows on their drawings to indicate the direction of the forces.

Materials (per student)

Leading the Activity
Invite student groups to discuss and share what they know and have learned about action-reaction forces. Encourage students to share information. You may want to chart their ideas on the board for later discussion. Share a picture example of action-reaction forces if possible. Discuss where the arrows indicating the direction of force should be placed. Explain to students that they will be collecting data regarding the interaction of forces. Involve students in the discussion of procedures, examples of possible investigations, and safety precautions.


  1. Do at least 4 action-reaction investigations.
  2. Choose from the list of examples below, and/or you may try out your own ideas.
  3. Write about your experiences and observations.
  4. Draw a picture of each action-reaction investigation.
  5. Use arrows to indicate the direction of force on each drawing.
Investigation Examples

Be sure to use safety precautions in all action-reaction investigations!

Range of Results
Students may choose to carry out all of the investigations on their own or to simply write and draw their ideas about what they think will happen. We suggest that students be encouraged to experience at least one or two of the easier-to-do investigations. It may be necessary for you to involve some students in the foot race or the kicking of the ball at school.



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