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Newton's Noodles

What can a dozen foam insulation noodles, some marbles, a brilliant teacher and a classroom filled with enthusiastic students get you?   It can get you a better understanding of Newton’s 2nd Law.

Even if you’re not “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” or ‘Dr. Sheldon Cooper,’ when you get your hands on the materials to turn a concept into reality, science can make sense and be fun.

Before distributing the foam noodles, tape and marbles needed for his “Newton’s Noodles,” lab, 6th grade Hanover Central Middle School teacher Ryan McGrath reviewed with his students the concept of energy conservation.  Students were reminded that mass and force have an effect on an objects motion.

teacher by white board with three studens

Mr. McGrath reviews with Chase Fajman, Aiden Bright, and Jacob Drewno the lessons learned that will help them complete the Newton's Noodle challenge.

The experiment required students to tape the grey noodles to the classroom walls in such a fashion that a marble would pass through the noodle with the least amount of space between the point of entry and an arc in the noodle.  Students had 25 minutes to complete the task before Mr. McGrath began measuring the noodles’ differences.  The results varied widely and the time it took for some teams to complete the task was very short.  In fact, the winning team of Filip Milenkovic, Landon Sarkey and Westin Waters, not only had the smallest distance between the two points, 26 mm, but also completed the task in less than half the time allotted. 

two students with foam tube

Dominic Capretti and Jerome Murphy original plan was to try and mimic the drawing left on the board by Mr. McGrath.  It didn't work and they quickly moved on to plan B!

3 children with tube

Nicholas Jones, Alexandra Lecea and Roha Zaidi experimented with various noodle configurations.

three students and a tube

Danielle Brink, Shea Garringer and Brian Toth hard at work applying Newton's law.

Cheers and groans could be heard as Mr. McGrath went from team to team, noodle to noodle, measuring distances.  Student enthusiasm was high and even though the clock ran out before his team’s marble could make a successful trip through the noodle, Henry Mauer refused to give up.  The fatal flaw in his team’s design was the creatively elaborate loop in the middle of the team’s noodle.  While his classmates pointed out that he didn’t need to keep trying, Henry was adamant that he wanted to keep trying to defy Newton, no matter how long it took.

teacher and student measuring noodle

Danielle Brink waites for Mr. McGrath to complete his measurement before testing her team's noodle.

teacher with student and noodle

Mitchell Remaly serves as captain of his team, that included Richie Christakes and Raphael Stanek and waits for the final verdict from Mr. McGrath.

teacher with three students

On his knees. or standing tall, Mr. McGrath did whatever was necessary to get accurate measurements of each team's noodle.  Here, Mellena Williams, Makenna Liming and Chase Fajman wait to find out if their creation meets the noodle criteria.  It did!

teacher measuring

Westin Waters waits in anticipation as Mr. McGrath measures his team's noodle first.  It was worth the long wait to discover that he and his partners, Filip Milenkovic and Landon Sarkey won the Newton's Noodle Challenge!

It’s the very enthusiasm of his students for hands on learning that keeps Mr. McGrath connecting his students with experiment after experiment and making trip after trip to Home Depot for experiment supplies.  “It’s exciting to see them understand a concept, but it’s just as exciting to see them so engaged in a project,” he said with a smile