Coin Tower Experiment

Sir Isaac Newton's first law of motion is about inertia: An object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest.

We were going to find out if that included a stack of coins!

  1. Ages: 5 - 11

  2. <30 minutes

  3. A little messy

Materials you'll need

Step-by-step tutorial

  • Step 1

    Can we move fast enough that we can knock out the bottom penny without bringing down the whole tower? Would the friction of the coins work for us or against us? Let's find out.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 1

  • Step 2

    We knew that we wanted to remove just one coin, so that meant that we had to hold the knife as flat against the table as possible.

    Photo reference of how to complete step 2

  • Step 3

    With full confidence that she had this on her very first try, Madeleine gave it a shot. One.... two.... ("Move your hand out of the way, baby...")

    Photo reference of how to complete step 3

  • Done!

    ...Three! She was right! She so had this. Her "force" was certainly enough to make friction work for her... the other objects remained at rest! Hmm... now I wonder how this would turn out with a shorter stack? Or a taller one?....

    Photo reference of how to complete step 4

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