Extreme Science: Inertia And The Golf Ball Drop - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Extreme Science: Inertia And The Golf Ball Drop

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Inertia and the golf ball drop

What you will need:

  • Glass or similar container
  • Lightweight metal pie pan
  • Short plastic tube or cardboard toilet paper tube
  • Golf ball
  • Water
  • Adult supervision

Procedure:

1) Fill your glass about 2/3 full of water.

2) Place the lightweight pan on top of the glass of water making sure that it is centered.

3) Stand the tube (plastic or toilet paper tube) upright in the center of the pan making sure that it is directly over the center of your glass of water.

4) Place the golf ball on the top of the tube.

5) Quickly hit the side of the pan knocking it off of the glass, sideways. Be careful not to hit the glass. All of your force should be on the side of the pan.

What is going on?

Newton’s first law of motion states that everything has inertia. Any object in motion will continue in motion, in a straight line, unless an outside force is applied and any object at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force is applied. Basically, this means that, for an object at rest, it will stay right where it is until something makes it move.

As you stacked these items, they all have inertia and will stay right where you put them until a force is applied to make them move. When you hit the pan and force it to move sideways, the glass doesn’t move or spill. This is because you didn’t apply enough force to overcome its’ inertia. The pan however, will slide off of the glass due to the force from your hand hitting it. When the pan slides off, the side of the pan will hit the tube and apply enough force to move it as well. Since the tube will flip out from underneath the golf ball (since the force was applied to the side of the base of the tube) there is not enough force that will be applied to actually move the golf ball. Once the pan and the tube have moved out of the way and are no longer holding the golf ball up, it will drop straight down into the glass of water.

Try this:

Try putting other objects on top of the tube instead of a golf ball. Do you think that a ping pong ball will work just the same or will it get flung sideways since it is so much lighter that the golf ball?

Radical Rick
Extreme Science
www.ExtremeScienceFun.com

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