Force In A Bottle 

By Wanda Pitts

This lesson was created as a part of the SMART website and is hosted by the Illinois Institute of Technology


Third grade students will learn that  force is needed to overcome inertia.  Students will also be able to define force and inertia.


waxed  paper


student method worksheet


The teacher asks  the question, what is force?  A force is a push or pull.  The teacher will put the definition on the board and give examples of force.  (Pulling a wagon, pushing a pedal on a bike, and pulling a drawer open).  The teacher asks  the question,  what is inertia?    Inertia is related to the amount of force needed to make a object move or change its motion.  The teacher will put the definition on the board and give examples of inertia..  (Raise the front tire of your bicycle off the ground, and give it a spin).   Friction is what makes the tire eventually come to rest.   The teacher will ask the students what will happen  to the bottle placed on waxed paper when the paper is quickly pulled away.  Students will make a prediction.

Show students materials to be used in the experiment and state the problem.

Pass out individual scientific method worksheets and students will write down their prediction and hypothesis.

Ask volunteers to explain the reasons for their predictions.

Students will conduct the experiment.

Discuss results  relative to the objective.

Students will complete the student scientific method worksheet.

Performance Assessment:.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The students should be able to use specific vocabulary to define force and inertia.

The students should be able to explain how  force is needed to understand the effects of inertia.

Students should be able to complete their scientific method worksheet.


The bottle sitting on the waxed paper will not move because of inertia.   An object at rest will remain so until something moves it.


Rate performance on a scale of one to four according to level of participation.   Score goes from excellent which is four, three is good, two is fair, and one is poor.



Criteria Score Four Score Three Score Two Score One
Makes prediction Relevant and accurate  Relevant and most approximate  Relevant but inaccurate      Irrelevant and inaccurate
States hypothesis Hypothesis question completed   Hypothesis question completed Hypothesis question inaccurate  Hypothesis question missing answer
Completes experiment All procedures and  scientific method was followed. Most procedures and scientific method was followed. Procedures and reporting show some evidence that scientific method was followed. Procedures and reporting do not follow scientific method.
Draws a conclusion Gives data and supporting evidence. Gives data but fails to show support. Not supported by the data. Fails to reach a conclusion.


Gardner, Robert; Experiments With Motion,  Enslow Publisher, Inc., 1995

Bentley, Joan and Hobbs, Linda; Science Experiments, Evan-moor Corp., 1994




                                                                 Scientific Method


What will happen to the bottle placed on wax paper when the paper is quickly pulled away?





The bottle will __________________________________________________________

A. ride along with the paper

B.  tip over frontward

C.  remain in the same place

D.  tip over backward


Place a bottle on a strip of wax paper.  Pull the paper away from under the bottle with a quick motion.  Watch out!


The bottle will _____________________________________________________________



Draw a picture of our experiment:

Reference on Newton's Laws

Reference on inertia.

Teacher Resource

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© Wanda Pitts