Ryan Ruff: My name is Ryan Ross, I am the seventh and eighth grade science teacher at Heritage K-8 Charter School. Today we did a project and they built Newton scooters. If you can teach someone a concept, a skill instead of reading it out of the book or memorizing it from your notes, then you know it.
Respondent: Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that one object exerts force on another object then the second object exerts a force of equal magnitude in the opposite direction of the first object.
Ryan Ruff: It’s not this idea or a theory it becomes reality for them. We started about two weeks ago. Each kid creates a sketch and they have to explain how it overcomes the forces of friction, gravity. After that they pair themselves up or form groups and they present to each other their individual sketches and drawings.
After the group decides on one specific scooter design, then they start bringing in their early prototypes and then we start trying them out and seeing if they’re actually working. The final project is due today.
Who’s goin’ first, Cody, Tyler, come on up.
My parameters for the project is it has to travel about eight feet and it has to stay within one meter’s width. It can’t just fly around everywhere. Not include any electricity or the use of gravity, it actually has to demonstrate how a reaction force can propel over the forces of gravity and any sorts of friction that they come across.
Their actual scooter is done being built and they’re ready. It’s show time for them.
Respondent: Our Newton scooters action is the balloon releasing air and the reaction is the car moving forward.
Ryan Ruff: Each group will be responsible for presenting their poster. Then they actually demonstrate their scooter. I am a big believer in experiential education. If you can manipulate the material, if you can get dirty, so to speak, kids learn from that a lot better, it makes it real.
Respondent: In our project the action is the air leaving out of the balloon while it’s deflating and the reaction is the scooter being propelled in the opposite direction with equal magnitude.
Ryan Ruff: There we go, nice work.
My kids kinda become heroes for the day. They’re the brilliant scientists of the campus now. It’s really a cool experience for them. They come to me with some pretty inventive ideas.
After the students have completed, they field questions from the younger grades who ask them pretty poignant questions.
Respondent: How does the track thing work?
Ryan Ruff: How do the track thing work? Aaron and Alex?
Respondent: As you see the metal, the metal is magnetic.
Ryan Ruff: How does it work, why did you guys choose this type of scooter?
How did it blast in the air?
Respondent: Okay, well when you mix the baking soda and the vinegar it causes a reaction and you put the cork on the bottle so it builds up pressure.
Ryan Ruff: I really like it when the younger kids get to ask my students what exactly is Newton’s Third Law.
Respondent: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction with equal magnitude but in the opposite direction.
Ryan Ruff: I’m proud of all of them. If you can get your scooter to work today, awesome. If it worked better yesterday, it worked better yesterday. For them learning from their mistakes is often more valuable than getting it right the first time. Hopefully I can teach them more than just science, about how to be a good person.