Teacher's Page: (lesson plan) (modified lesson plan for struggling learners)

Click here for a small video clip. You can show this to your students as an introduction to this WebQuest and as an introduction to the force and motion. Click The Law of Inertia to read more about the Law of Inertia. The class can also watch a 2 minute video about roller coasters and Newton's Laws. The link is here and in the introduction.

To bring in a larger crowd, management at Fiesta Texas is searching for the latest thrilling roller coaster. This "king of the park" will be a new and exciting ride that will defy gravity and mystify the mind. This will be the newest attraction in years. Who can design such a roller coaster? This is where you come in.

You are a Mechanical Engineer for Fiesta Texas. As a mechanical engineer, you will research as much as you can about Newton’s Laws and apply your research to the design of a new roller coaster. You will be in charge of designing the next 'king of the park.' Before you move on, click here to watch a video on roller coasters.

Students will eventually answer, What does Newton’s Laws have to do with a roller coaster?


This is a Web Quest designed for 8th grade students on the topic of Newton’s Laws. Before setting off on the quest students need to be comfortable with:

1. Using a computer
2. Navigating the Internet
3. Working with Internet resources
4. Taking notes from electronic sources and collecting data
5. Setting a purpose for reading
6. Synthesizing information across resources
7. Collaborating with their peers on a project
8. Map pencils, scissors, additional lined or copy paper
9. 5- 10 toy cars, preferably small cars
10. 10- 15 balloons


Did you know that roller coasters do not have engines? So how do they move so fast and go up side down? Roller coasters move by gravity and inertia. The taller and higher a roller coaster is, the more gravity will pull it closer to earth. As you go through the WebQuest, you will read about Newton's Laws. Then you will apply what you have read and create a roller coaster on poster board, computer, sketch drawing, or 3- D construction. The choice will be up to you because you will be able to explain how Newton's Laws are demonstrated.  

Before you move on, click for a Vocabulary Review.

Review with teacher- students can create a quick foldable to log vocabulary. The foldable can be as followed: Have students fold paper evenly down the middle so that the paper can fold in half, as if the students were taking a spelling test. With a ruler, students can draw up to 17 lines across the one side of the paper. Then students can write out the vocabulary word on the outside of the paper, and the definition on the inside of the flap of the paper that was cut. Students can color coat the boxes of definitions with the flap with the vocabulary word. This part can be done as a whole class or group activity. Click the link for students to write out vocabulary words. Students are to include the following words:

The vocabulary words students will be focusing on are listed below:

Balance/ unbalanced    
Centripetal force   
Energy force  
Gravitational force  
Kinetic energy   
Newton's Laws of Motion Period   
Potential Energy   

Students can work in groups of four, or this can be a whole class activity. To save on time, the teacher can complete the 3 demonstrations mentioned in Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3.Each student will still be responsible for all of the work the steps ask for.

Teacher information written in bold lettering:
Helpful Definitions:
See Glossary

Student Directions:
The teacher can have handouts printed before the lesson begins.
Students will use their handouts titled Law 1, Law 2, and Law 3, and the links below to complete their objectives.

Attached is a copy of the links primarily available to the teacher. The students have access to fewer links.

For additional activity, students can complete Newton's Log during the WebQuest. They will answer the following questions:

  • Describe the state of motion and inertia fit from the example: someone lying on the couch.
  • Describe acceleration and force from this example: a ball thrown between two people.
  • Describe equal but opposite reaction from this example: a rocket flying into space.

These pages carry information students can use to complete the tasks.
Pre-reading activities can also be useful for reading electronic text. Consider having students use the title, subtitles, and divisions within the text to predict content. Look at pictures, maps, diagrams, or graphs and their captions to enhance understanding. Skim to find the theme or main idea.

Students will not be asked to do any mathematical calculations in this web quest. The roller coaster designs are not expected to be mathematically accurate. Students should demonstrate a basic understanding of roller coaster design, such as, the first hill must be the highest hill because it must be able to provide enough energy for the train to complete the entire course of the coaster. Loops need to be teardrop shaped instead of a perfect circle because of the g forces that act upon the riders' bodies. The teacher can specify to the students what principles he/she expects to see demonstrated in the coaster drawing. These principles should mirror the information covered in the class prior to this project.

Step 1: (1 day) Mini-lesson on Synthesizing

Newton's First Law- An object in motion stays in motion.
To better understand Newton's First Law, you will need a toy car, and a partner. Think about this: An object in motion stays in motion. What does this mean?

Have about five feet of space between you and your partner. Now facing each other, roll the car across the floor towards your partner letting it travel as far as it can without stopping. The car will roll until it runs out of energy or until something stops it from rolling like an object in the way. This is an example of Newton's First Law: An object in motion stays in motion.

Think about this next example:
Since an object in motion stays in motion, comets can fly around in space forever, because they are in motion. Until something comes in the way, the comet will keep going.

Grab your handout First Law and complete it using the links on the resource page. For a mini lab on inertia, click here. This can be printed and sent home for homework or done as a class project, or how ever chosen by the teacher.

Step 2: (1 day)

Newton's Second Law - The Law of Acceleration and Force
To better understand Newton's Second Law, you will need a toy car, and a partner. Think about this: The greater the acceleration, the greater the force, the greater the mass the greater the force. What does this mean?

If you have one object and apply a little force versus applying a lot of force, the object will move faster with more force. For example, with your toy car, apply force to the car so the car will travel as far as possible. You will do this by pushing the car back and then rolling it with a lot of force. See how far it will go. How far did your car go? Have your partner do the opposite and apply little force to the car. Does the car travel further then the your partner's car?

Think about this next example: if you were pushing a one ton elephant on skates with little force, it would move slowly. If you push the same elephant with a lot of force, it will move quickly. This is an example of Newton's Second Law: The greater the acceleration, the greater the force; the greater the mass, the greater the force.

Now you will complete the Second Law of your handout. Click here for the links to complete this step.

Step 3: (1 day)

Newton's Third Law - The Law of Interaction
To better understand Newton's Third Law, you will need a balloon and a partner. Think about this: For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. What does that mean?

Go outside for this demonstration. With your balloon in your hand, blow the balloon up with as much air as possible. Then let the balloon go. As you let the balloon go, watch it howl through the air as it descends to the ground. Think about what you just did. The amount of air you blew into the balloon was then evened out by how it soared all through the room, spitting with air until it landed. Now have your partner bow air into the balloon, but do not fill the balloon up all the way. Let the balloon go and observe if the balloon traveled with as much intensity as your partner's.

Think about this next example: "Imagine a rocket is being launched from the earth. Hot gases are pushed out from the bottom of the rocket as the rocket is thrust upward. The force of the gases pushing against the surface of the earth is equal and opposite to the force with which the rocket moves upward. The motion of the rocket can be explained by Newton's third law, for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction." (Westbroek, 2000, Utah State Office of Education)

Think about these examples as you answer your Third Law handout. Click here for the links to complete this step.
For an excellent demonstration of Newton's Third Law, click here. Students will be able to work with alka seltzers and 35 mm canisters for a hands on experiment.

Step 4: (1 day) Mini-lesson on Summarizing

Now you are probably wondering how Newton's Laws and rollercoasters have in common. They have lots in common! You can read the roller coaster link to How Stuff Works for any last minute details for your summary.

Click on the summary. You will type out a summary of what you have learned about Newton's Three Laws. When you finish your summary, move onto the roller coaster link. There you will read through the link and create a computer model roller coaster.

Step 5: (1 day)

After you create your roller coaster, you will grab all of your research and create a Newton Log Book. The order of the pages is as followed:

1. Cover page- Design in any way you would like.
2. Table of contents- you can use the template for this
3. First Law Handout
4. Second Law Handout
5. Third Law Handout
6. Summary of Newton's Laws
7. Sketch/ collection of Roller coaster

Step 6: (1 day)

Before you present your work, make sure you have:

1. Explained Newton's laws of motion.
2. Identified apparent forces because of a change in an object's motion.
3. Located examples of Newton’s Laws in everyday use.
4. Investigated why things move and proposed how they may have been stopped.
5. Studied the influence of the motion of some objects on other objects.

Congratulations! You have created a book that demonstrates your knowledge of Newton's Laws. Show your roller coaster to the class. Students will need about 6-7 days or about two weeks for this WebQuest and labs included. For an excellent demonstration of Newton's Third Law, click here. Students will be able to work with alka seltzers and 35 mm canisters for a hands on experiment. Mini lab on inertia, click here.

Resources Needed:
1. Computer with Internet Access
2. Electronic resources for student research
3. Pre-reading activities with electronic text
4. Each person has its own collection of resources
5. Map pencils, scissors, additional lined or copy paper
6. 5- 10 toy cars, preferably small cars
7. 10- 15 balloons

You will need about four or five days for students to complete the entire web quest. The display of the roller coaster can be an extension, or used as a final grade.


Students will be evaluated on the following:

1. Explanation of Newton's laws of motion in which you have determined the type of information relevant to the the questions and applied them to the handouts provided.
2. Identify and reflect the apparent forces applied to and contributed by the change in an object's motion.
3. A visualization of the Newton's laws in motion through a roller coaster.
4. You will be able to include the examples of Newton’s Laws in everyday use.
5. Explanation of how the harder something is pushed, the faster it goes.
6. Explanation of how the more mass something is, the harder it is to move.
7. Investigation of why things move and propose how things may stop moving.

See rubric in the resource tab for more details.

You did a great job with your roller coaster. You encountered new information about Newton’s Laws and applied it in your roller coaster design. You have identified life examples of Newton’s Laws and can describe how those laws affect us daily. With your hard work, dedication and flexibility, Fiesta Texas will have to choose the best roller coaster. The decision to choose an exciting and great design of a roller coaster will be a tough one. Nevertheless, while you wait for Fiesta Texas' decision, your teacher has a little quiz for you. 

QUIZ on Newton’s Law.

Introduction | Task | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Resources | Teacher's Page | WebQuest Page

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