ALEX Lesson Plan


Toy Cars and Newton's Second Law

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Brian Sauls
System: Albertville City
School: Albertville Middle School
The event this resource created for:ASTA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34517


Toy Cars and Newton's Second Law


Students will conduct an experiment to determine the effect of mass on the distance a toy car will roll. Students will calculate the effect that mass has on the acceleration of the car (the distance the car will roll). Students will also make a prediction of how far the car will roll if more mass is added. 

This lesson results from a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and ASTA. 

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 8
Physical Science
9 ) Use Newton's second law to demonstrate and explain how changes in an object's motion depend on the sum of the external forces on the object and the mass of the object (e.g., billiard balls moving when hit with a cue stick).

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
P8.16a: Forces have magnitude and direction.

NAEP Statement::
P8.16b: Forces can be added.

NAEP Statement::
P8.16c: The net force on an object is the sum of all the forces acting on the object.

NAEP Statement::
P8.16d: A nonzero net force on an object changes the object's motion; that is, the object's speed and/or direction of motion changes.

NAEP Statement::
P8.16e: A net force of zero on an object does not change the object's motion; that is, the object remains at rest or continues to move at a constant speed in a straight line.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
Crosscutting Concepts: Stability and Change
Disciplinary Core Idea: Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Demonstrate, using Newton's Second Law, how changes in an object's motion depend on the sum of the external forces on the object and the mass of the object.
  • Explain, using Newton's Second Law, how changes in an object's motion depend on the sum of the external forces on the object and the mass of the object.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Sir Isaac Newton
  • Newton's Second Law of Motion
  • Mass
  • Acceleration
  • Potential energy
  • Kinetic energy
  • Force
  • External force
  • Sum
  • Motion
Students know:
  • The acceleration of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change.
  • The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion.
  • For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. Force = mass x acceleration; F=ma.
Students are able to:
  • Demonstrate Newton's second law.
  • Articulate a statement that relates a given phenomenon to a scientific idea, including Newton's second law and the motion of an object.
Students understand that:
  • Newton's Second Law states that changes in an object's motion depends on the sum of the external forces on the object and the mass of the object.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Experimenting with Forces and Motion

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.8.9- Investigate and identify ways to change the motion of an object (e.g., change an incline's slope, change the mass of the object).

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will demonstrate and explain Newton's Second Law: how changes in an object's motion depend on the sum of the external forces on the object and the mass of the object.


Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

31 to 60 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Toy Cars 

Washers or pennies for added mass

Masking tape

Metersticks or ramps



Technology Resources Needed:

Computer with internet access, projector


This lesson can be used as an introduction to Newton's Second Law, or it could be used after the information has been taught to reinforce the content.

Students must be familiar with metric measurement and using metersticks. Students must know that gravity is a constant and will work on all cars the same (9.8 m/s/s).

The teacher must gather materials for each group. The type of toy car used will determine what type of ramp is needed. Lay metersticks side by side to create a wider ramp. 


1. Students should gather materials and set up the experiment. Use books to elevate the ramps (height will depend on number of books available and number of groups). Make sure the different groups use the same number of books (three is recommended). Ask students to predict how the different masses will affect the distance that each car travels. Record all information and data in science notebooks. Ramps may be made by taping together meter sticks side by side. Make them as wide as needed for the toy cars. 

2. Students will conduct three trials with no weights, five weights, and ten weights. Use tape to attach weights to the top of the cars. Measure the distance the car travels. Make sure to keep ramp angle, release height, etc. all the same so that you are only testing one variable.  Have students create a data table for recording their distances. Make sure they have a column to calculate average distance (see attached data table).

3. Ask students to answer the following questions in their science notebook:

  • How does increasing mass (adding weights) affect the acceleration of the object?
  • Explain your results in terms of Newton's Second Law (Acceleration= Force/Mass).

4. After the students complete the lab, watch the Bozeman video on Newton's Second Law.

5. Have a class discussion on how adding mass changed the acceleration of the car. Ask students to use their data to back up their arguments. If time permits, allow students to make predictions on how adding 15 or 20 weights would affect the acceleration of the car.

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Assessment Strategies

Teacher questioning.

Check student notebooks for understanding and completion.


Have students predict how far the car will travel with 15 or 20 weights. If time and materials permit, allow them to test their predictions.


The teacher may need to help students will measuring the distance each car travels. Students may also need assistance calculating average and making predictions.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.