red ball colliding into silver ball

Acceleration and Inertia

Presented by: Fermilab

Learn about Newton’s First Law of Motion in this exciting experiment about acceleration and inertia, which scientists at Fermilab use to study particles and learn about the origin of our universe. For additional experiments, visit the Fermilab Open House.

Materials List

These are the materials you will need to follow along with this activity.

  • Plastic cup
  • Index card
  • Quarter or similar sized object
  • Various size and weight objects (pom pom, ping pong ball, rock, etc.)

Safety Considerations

Use materials only as directed. Do not aim or launch projectiles toward people, pets, fragile items, and/or windows. This activity should be supervised by an adult.

About Fermilab

Fermilab is America’s premier laboratory for particle physics and accelerator research, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. Thousands of scientists around the world collaborate with Fermilab on research at the frontiers of discovery.

Particle physicists aim to discover what the universe is made of and how it works. They study the smallest building blocks of matter using some of the largest and most complex machines in the world. Fermilab hosts a range of cutting-edge experiments and develops and builds technologies that support particle physics research at locations around the world, including deep underground laboratories in South Dakota and Canada, the Large Hadron Collider in Europe, and the South Pole Telescope. Together with our international partners, we expand humankind’s understanding of matter, energy, space and time, capturing imaginations and inspiring future generations.