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This classroom demonstration illustrates the concept of Newton's First Law and inertia.  A dollar bill is placed between two soda bottles, with the top bottle filled with water.  The currency acts as a water sealant, creating a system of balanced upward and downward forces.  The water remains at rest until the demonstrator yanks out the dollar bill.  Background information and reference material on Newton's First law are included.

Phun Physics is a collection of physics demonstrations which introduce basic physics topics and can be varied for presentation to grades 3-12. See Related Items for a link to the full collection.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Newton's First Law
= Inertia at Rest
- High School
- Middle School
- Elementary School
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Demonstration
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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© 1999 University of Virginia
Law of Inertia, Newton's First Law, classroom demonstration, demonstration, physics demonstration
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created January 5, 2009 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
March 12, 2014 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
January 20, 2008

broken links

Author: Brian Vancil
Posted: February 10, 2013 at 1:42PM

Links at phun.physics.virginia.edu are broken.

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AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

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.
4G. Forces of Nature
  • 3-5: 4G/E1. The earth's gravity pulls any object on or near the earth toward it without touching it.

Next Generation Science Standards

Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions (5-PS2)

Students who demonstrate understanding can: (5)
  • Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down. (5-PS2-1)

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Forces and Motion (PS2.A)
  • For any pair of interacting objects, the force exerted by the first object on the second object is equal in strength to the force that the second object exerts on the first, but in the opposite direction (Newton's third law). (6-8)
Types of Interactions (PS2.B)
  • The gravitational force of Earth acting on an object near Earth's surface pulls that object toward the planet's center. (5)

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Dynamics: Forces and Motion
Unit Title: Newton's First Law & Inertia

Cool classroom demo for illustrating inertia at rest.  A dollar bill is placed between two soda bottles; the top bottle is filled with water.  Upward/downward forces are balanced because the dollar acts as a sealant.  Quickly removing the dollar bill creates a net unbalanced force on the water, which whooshes into the soda bottle below.  Try teaming this teacher-led demo with the Pencil Drop below, which students could perform.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
Phun Physics, (1999), WWW Document, (http://phun.physics.virginia.edu/demos/dollar.html).
Phun Physics, Phun Physics: Dollar Bill Grab, (1999), <http://phun.physics.virginia.edu/demos/dollar.html>.
APA Format
Phun Physics. (2008, January 20). Phun Physics: Dollar Bill Grab. Retrieved June 25, 2017, from http://phun.physics.virginia.edu/demos/dollar.html
Chicago Format
Phun Physics. Phun Physics: Dollar Bill Grab. January 20, 2008. http://phun.physics.virginia.edu/demos/dollar.html (accessed 25 June 2017).
MLA Format
Phun Physics. Phun Physics: Dollar Bill Grab. 1999. 20 Jan. 2008. 25 June 2017 <http://phun.physics.virginia.edu/demos/dollar.html>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Phun Physics", Title = {Phun Physics: Dollar Bill Grab}, Volume = {2017}, Number = {25 June 2017}, Month = {January 20, 2008}, Year = {1999} }
Refer Export Format

%Q Phun Physics
%T Phun Physics: Dollar Bill Grab
%D January 20, 2008
%U http://phun.physics.virginia.edu/demos/dollar.html
%O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%A Phun Physics,
%D January 20, 2008
%T Phun Physics: Dollar Bill Grab
%V 2017
%N 25 June 2017
%8 January 20, 2008
%9 text/html
%U http://phun.physics.virginia.edu/demos/dollar.html

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Phun Physics: Dollar Bill Grab:

Is Part Of http://phun.physics.virginia.edu/demos/

This is the full collection of Phun Physics demonstrations for elementary and secondary science classrooms.  Procedures and background information are available for each demo.

relation by Caroline Hall
Covers the Same Topic As Phun Physics: Pencil Drop

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