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Take a moment to explore motion with this simple activity from Family Science.

Materials needed:

  • Large bowl (metal or plastic mixing bowls work well)
  • Marble or small ball

Try this:

  • Put the marble or small ball in a bowl that is sitting on a table or other flat surface.
  • Without touching the marble or lifting the bowl, can you make the marble roll around the side of the bowl? Family

What’s happening?

It takes some kind of force to start an object moving. Moving the bowl in circles on the table will make the marble roll around the side of the bowl. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest and objects in motion tend to stay in motion unless acted on by an outside force. This property is called inertia. The inertia of the moving marble keeps it on the side of the bowl. People in a moving car also have inertia. When the car stops suddenly, they will keep moving forward unless they are wearing seat belts. This is why seat belts are so important! Seat belts help stop the forward movement.

(Adapted from the very first activity in Family Science, available as an eBook in English and a print book in Spanish.)