Isaac Newton's Birthday - 4th January

Newton is regarded as one of the most influential physicists and mathematicians of all time and his actual birthday depends upon which calendar is used. Under the Julian calendar which was being used in England at the time Newton was born on Christmas day 1642. However, under the currently used Gregorian calander he was born on 4th Jan 1643. Either way, he was a game changing contributor to the understanding of many areas of science and mathematics including: forces, motion, gravity, light, fluids and calculus.

This collection highlights some of his work that is applicable to the science and mathematics curriculum for secondary schools. 

The Astro Academy: Principia collection, named after Newton's groundbreaking book on his laws of motion and universal gravitation, are a series of videos of the experiments Tim Peake carried out on the International Space station in 2016 demonstrating Newton's laws.  Other resources within the collection also look at these laws in more detail including classroom activity ideas for both physics and mathematics lessons for secondary aged pupils

The topics of light and non-Newtonian fluids are also covered for secondary pupils.




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In 2016, European Space Agency Astronaut, Tim Peake, carried out a series of experiments on the International Space Station, using equipment designed by the National Space Academy.

The overall programme includes the following topics from UK physics and chemistry secondary school curricula:

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Newton Wheel

This activity, from Solar Spark, allows students to investigate light and the eye. A template is provided that students can colour to produce a Newton Wheel. White light is made up of lots of different colours and by spinning the colours on the disc, the eye combines the spinning colours and sees the disc as if it...

Make a non-Newtonian fluid

This Catalyst article includes a recipe on how to make a non-Newtonian fluid which flows in strange and unexpected ways.

This article is from Catalyst: Secondary Science Review 2016, Volume 26, Issue 4.


Exposing and Discussing Misconceptions: Forces

The objectives of this activity are to expose common misconceptions about the nature of forces and to introduce Newton’s Laws of Motion. Students are asked to place the headings, true, false, unsure at the top of their paper and place the accompanying cards into the appropriate column, giving reasons for placing it...