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published by the WGBH Educational Foundation
supported by the National Science Foundation
In this 8-minute Flash video, physicist/inventor Dean Kamen talks about his design of the Segway personal transporter and the IBOT wheelchair. The Segway is a 2-wheeled electric powered vehicle that is accelerated by a driver's weight shift forward or backward. It uses gyroscopic sensors to detect changes in the center of mass. The dynamics of the Segway are similar to an inverted pendulum. The IBOT wheelchair is designed with two sets of powered wheels that can climb stairs and lift the driver to a standing height. It integrates gyroscopic sensors and specialized software to perform its functions.

Editor's Note: Inventor Kamen gives engaging and clear explanations of how he used Newton's Laws to design these devices. All three laws come into play.

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Please note that this resource requires Flash.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Newton's First Law
- Newton's Second Law
= Force, Acceleration
- Newton's Third Law
= Action/Reaction
- Statics of Rigid Bodies
= Center of Gravity
= Equilibrium
= Static Torque
- High School
- Middle School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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General Public
Access Rights:
Free access
© 2004 WGBH Educational Foundation
Segway dynamics, action/reaction, center of mass, design, dynamics, engineering, force pairs, inertia, inventions, torque
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created October 4, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 14, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
September 30, 2011

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

3. The Nature of Technology

3A. Technology and Science
  • 6-8: 3A/M3. Engineers, architects, and others who engage in design and technology use scientific knowledge to solve practical problems. They also usually have to take human values and limitations into account.
  • 9-12: 3A/H3a. Technology usually affects society more directly than science does because technology solves practical problems and serves human needs (and also creates new problems and needs).
  • 9-12: 3A/H4. Engineers use knowledge of science and technology, together with strategies of design, to solve practical problems. Scientific knowledge provides a means of estimating what the behavior of things will be even before they are made. Moreover, science often suggests new kinds of behavior that had not even been imagined before, and so leads to new technologies.

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.
  • 9-12: 4F/H4. Whenever one thing exerts a force on another, an equal amount of force is exerted back on it.
  • 9-12: 4F/H7. In most familiar situations, frictional forces complicate the description of motion, although the basic principles still apply.
  • 9-12: 4F/H8. Any object maintains a constant speed and direction of motion unless an unbalanced outside force acts on it.
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Record Link
AIP Format
(WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, 2004), WWW Document, (http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/phy03.sci.phys.mfw.segway/segway-technology-whats-newton-got-to-do-with-it/).
PBS LearningMedia: Segway Technology: What's Newton Got to Do with It?, (WGBH Educational Foundation, Boston, 2004), <http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/phy03.sci.phys.mfw.segway/segway-technology-whats-newton-got-to-do-with-it/>.
APA Format
PBS LearningMedia: Segway Technology: What's Newton Got to Do with It?. (2011, September 30). Retrieved January 20, 2017, from WGBH Educational Foundation: http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/phy03.sci.phys.mfw.segway/segway-technology-whats-newton-got-to-do-with-it/
Chicago Format
National Science Foundation. PBS LearningMedia: Segway Technology: What's Newton Got to Do with It?. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation, September 30, 2011. http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/phy03.sci.phys.mfw.segway/segway-technology-whats-newton-got-to-do-with-it/ (accessed 20 January 2017).
MLA Format
PBS LearningMedia: Segway Technology: What's Newton Got to Do with It?. Boston: WGBH Educational Foundation, 2004. 30 Sep. 2011. National Science Foundation. 20 Jan. 2017 <http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/phy03.sci.phys.mfw.segway/segway-technology-whats-newton-got-to-do-with-it/>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PBS LearningMedia: Segway Technology: What's Newton Got to Do with It?}, Publisher = {WGBH Educational Foundation}, Volume = {2017}, Number = {20 January 2017}, Month = {September 30, 2011}, Year = {2004} }
Refer Export Format

%T PBS LearningMedia: Segway Technology: What's Newton Got to Do with It?
%D September 30, 2011
%I WGBH Educational Foundation
%C Boston
%U http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/phy03.sci.phys.mfw.segway/segway-technology-whats-newton-got-to-do-with-it/
%O application/flash

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%D September 30, 2011
%T PBS LearningMedia: Segway Technology: What's Newton Got to Do with It?
%I WGBH Educational Foundation
%V 2017
%N 20 January 2017
%8 September 30, 2011
%9 application/flash
%U http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/phy03.sci.phys.mfw.segway/segway-technology-whats-newton-got-to-do-with-it/

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