Newton's Scooters 2k11

Problem     Research     Work List     Grading










Imagine what would happen if you and a friend were standing on skateboards and you gave your friend a forward push. What would happen to you? Would you stand still or would you travel backward?

The backward motion that you would experience can be explained by Newton’s Third Law of Motion, which describes an equal and opposite reaction to every action.

In this project, your problem is to use Newton’s third law of motion to move a "vehicle", holding Sir Isaac Newton.  This vehicle must travel forward 15 feet by pushing backward on the floor, the air, or some other object. Newton will be a standard plastic 'army man', who may be hot glued into your creation at the base only.

At the end of this project, you will present your vehicle and explain how you followed the Engineering Design Process to design, build and test your ideas. Your presentation will include a slideshow using PowerPoint software, containing a short video/movie production.










1.   What is Newton's 3rd Law?

  • Use Microsoft Word to display your definition, edit your answer- do not just cut and paste. Save in your team e-folder.
  • Find 6-12 pictures, graphics and/or animations to help explain the law. Computer graphics are saved individually to your e-folder.

2.  Think of 3 ways that you could get your vehicle to move a distance of 15 feet. Be creative! Don’t limit yourself to vehicles that have wheels. The rules state that the vehicle has to stay within a width of 5 feet, but it is allowed to leave the ground! Think of any other propulsion methods that you could use to push your design?

  • List these 3 choices on your Word doc, explain how each is affected by Newton's Law.

3.  Draw a sketch of each idea above

  • label the parts used in construction

  • explain how Newton's 3rd Law will move it.

  • Use 8 1/2 x 11 white paper and markers or colored pencils. These will be scanned and saved in your e-folder.









Work List

Project Rules

a.  Vehicle designs must be approved before construction can start. The finished design must be smaller than an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper.

b.   Your vehicle must use Newton’s third law of motion to move forward; it must move forward by pushing backward on the floor, the air, or some other object.

c.   You must build your vehicle from scrap materials, many can be found in the shop. Do not use a ready-made vehicle. You may not use "propulsion" elements of toy cars, you can use seats, car bodies, wheels, etc.

d.   Your vehicle must travel forward 15 feet and completely cross the finish line. The path of your vehicle should stay within a width of 5 feet

e.  You are not allowed to interfere with the movement of your vehicle. You cannot give your vehicle a push as you launch it, and you cannot help it in any way as it travels from the starting line to the finish line. No force may be applied to the vehicle by the student.

f.  You cannot use any form of electricity or the pull of gravity to move your vehicle. Meaning you cannot use a downhill ramp to get your vehicle started.

g.  You may use a “track” such as a toy car track or a string running from the starting line to the finish line to guide your vehicle. Not only will this help reduce friction, but it may also help you to keep your vehicle within the boundaries.

h.   Your vehicle does not have to move along the ground. If your vehicle moves through the air, you could use a string stretched between two chairs as a “track” to guide your vehicle.

i. 'Newton' needs to be 'driving' your design. Use a standard plastic army man, hot glued only by the base, to simulate.


Prototype Worklist:

1. Pick a team name that is "scientific" or 'Newton-like". Create an e-folder on the Y drive under that name.

2. Research- save as teamname in your e-folder. Use Microsoft Word to save all text copied from the internet. Graphics should also be saved here.

3. Presentation Slideshow, use PowerPoint software- save as teamname

Slideshow Worklist : follow the steps of the Engineering Design Process

You will need labeled slides that include:

  • Team name
  • Team picture
  • Engineering Design Process Step 1- what is your problem?
  • EDP Step 2- insert research info and 3 drawings from your Research. You will need multiple slides for this step.
  • EDP Step 3- insert thumbnail sketch from each team member.
  • EDP Step 4- insert Best Solution sketch
  • EDP Step 5- insert 6 photos of your completed Prototype
  • EDP Step 6- insert a paragraph of how your prototype was tested and the results/ average of 3 tests (final distance), also include a video of your successful or unsuccessful testing.
  • EDP Step 7- include a paragraph on what you liked and disliked about using PowerPoint.
  • EDP Step 8- List changes you would make to your prototype, team and/or slideshow, if you had to do this project again.

5. Each team member will sketch 2 thumbnail sketches of a Newton's Scooter using the propulsion method chosen by your team . Use the Step 3- Design Process; Developing Possible Solutions- Thumbnail Sketches form, print it out. Label each part and use markers or colored pencils. These sheets will be scanned  and added as Step 3 slides of your presentation.

6. From the information obtained from Step 2 and Step 3, draw a full size sketch of your team's Scooter. Draw the front/side view and the top view. This should be full size and very neatly done. Use large paper, label and color it. Take a digital picture will be taken of this sheet and it will be added as your EDP Step 4 slide.

7. Build your Newton's Scooter prototype as shown on your EDP Step 4 drawing.

8. Multiple digital pictures, 3-6, will be taken of your completed prototype. Add these as EDP Step 5.

9. EDP Step 6- record the testing process. List the modifications you added to the original design, as well as how it performed on 3 tests.  Add a slide with the digital video you took of your Scooter testing-  include 3 parts; 1. team talk on how you made your design and how you hope it will perform, 2. actual testing- good or bad, and 3. team talk on the results. Video will include transitions and text. Use Windows Movie Maker. Music/ sounds are optional.

10. Add a slide for Step 7 telling of the likes and dislikes of: 1. following the Engineering Design Process to solve this problem, 2. using PowerPoint and 3. using Windows Movie Maker.  One answer per team member.

11. EDP Step 8- list the things you would do differently if you were to create this project again. This could be design or team issues.











  5 3 1
prototype (x3) completed, test successful completed, not successful not completed
slideshow (x3) xxx  complete xxx missing < 2 items missing > 2 items
team cooperation/ work (x2) works > 85% works 50-84% works < 50%
step 2 complete, neat missing 1 item and/or messy missing > 1 item
step 3 & 4 complete, neat missing 1 item and/or messy missing > 1 item
video (x2) complete, neat missing 1 item and/or sloppy DNC

A 60-50    B 49-39    C 38-25    D 24-18    F <18