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Grade 8: Newton’s Laws of Motion Slingshot Lab

Recently in science class, Grade 8 students have been studying Newton’s Laws of Motion. While the students have read and watched videos about the laws and completed assignments, they were able to put what they learned into action through a Newton’s Laws of Motion Slingshot Lab!
According to Graland Grade 8 science teacher Jennifer Chen, “During this lab, students set up ‘Newton cars,’ which are essentially slingshots made from a wooden block and a rubber band. Students then work together to increase and decrease the mass of the block that is 'flung' by the car [by lighting the slingshot string on fire] and observe how the mass of the block impacts the acceleration and force of the car. They also collect data by measuring how far the block traveled both forward and backward. Through this activity, students gain an understanding of Newton’s Laws and practice skills of measurement, analysis, graphing, and scientific writing.”

Throughout the lab, several Grade 8 students, including eighth grader Annie G. shared how much they were enjoying the lab and science class at Graland. “I’ve always been interested in science class, especially all of the experiments. I like getting to learn about the world and what it has to offer,” Annie said. “During this lab, I learned that fire is pretty powerful, and even just a little spark can make something travel a long way.” 

As an educator, the Newton’s Laws of Motion Slingshot Lab is one of Mrs. Chen’s favorites to observe. “We do a lot of laboratory investigations in this class, and I love any opportunity that allows students to explore science in hands-on ways. I particularly enjoy this lab because the data they collect reliably and accurately demonstrates the laws and concepts they are studying. They have a lot of fun with it (Slingshots? Burning string? What is not to love!), and it really helps them to understand the unit,” Mrs. Chen said. 

Throughout the year, Mrs. Chen is looking forward to continuing to teach helpful skills and lessons that the Grade 8 students can take with them to high school next year. “The Graland Grade 8 science curriculum lays a great foundation for physics, chemistry, and biology. I try to touch on a variety of topics to pique the students' interests in science and hope they will move on to high school with an eagerness to dig deeper in their full-year courses on these topics. I want them to be excited about and love learning science. I also encourage them to keep their class materials because they might find them useful in coming years,” Mrs. Chen said.
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Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.