Forces and Motion Box Block Plan

Lesson 1: Introduction to forces
Students complete an anticipation guide, using prior knowledge to predict whether statements like “A rock thrown in space will keep going forever” are true or false.  

Lesson 2: Types of forces (informal)
Given the definition of “force” as a push or a pull, students analyze common interactions (sitting on a chair, kicking a soccer ball, etc.) and identify pushes and pulls on them in everyday language.
Strategy: Productive questioning

Lesson 3: Friction lab
Before formally defining the term “friction,” students investigate its effects by measuring the force required to pull baby shoes.  Variables for the students to investigate: size of shoe, type of sole, type of flooring, weight in shoe, force required to start moving vs. force required to keep moving.  Students identify factors that increase or decrease the amount of force required to pull and speculate about reasons.  The term “friction” will be introduced at the end of the lab.
Strategy: Scaffolded inquiry

Lesson 4: Types of forces (formal)
Students work cooperatively to complete a graphic organizer of information on forces or related ideas: gravity, weight, friction, static friction, sliding friction, air resistance, tension, and compression.  Each student in the group will read about two forces, complete accompanying sections of the organizer, and teach the information to the other students.
Strategies: Productive questioning, cooperative learning, reciprocal teaching

Lesson 5: Identifying forces
Students identify forces acting on objects in pictures, drawing labeled arrows to show direction and approximate magnitude of force.  
Strategies: Productive questioning, cooperative learning

Lesson 6: Net force: Balanced and unbalanced forces (informal)
Students participate in a number of activities involving forces.  Groups will push an object in the same direction, then in opposite directions.  Students play tug-of-war with shoes on, then with one side with shoes on, one side in socks.  (We will borrow one of the small rooms off the gym for this activity.)  They sketch a diagram of each situation and label it with force arrows, adding a final arrow to demonstrate the overall force.  The term “net force” will be introduced at the end of the activity.
Strategy: Scaffolded inquiry

Lesson 7: Net force: Balanced and unbalanced forces (formal)
Students work cooperatively to complete a graphic organizer of information on balanced and unbalanced forces.  Pairs of students read about one topic and compile information, then teach it to the other pair.  Students work together to compare the types of forces.
Strategies: Productive questioning, cooperative learning, reciprocal teaching

Lesson 8: Assessment: Types of forces
Students take a quiz on vocabulary (force, net force, balanced/unbalanced forces, gravity, friction, tension, compression, mass, weight) and complete free-body diagrams, labeling the relevant forces with arrows.

Lesson 9: Inertia and Newton’s first law
Students perform two mini-experiments: flicking an index card out from on top of a cup so that a coin on the card falls into the cup, and pulling a piece of paper out from under a cup of water.  They speculate on why they can do so.  The tem “inertia” will be introduced, and students watch Eureka! videos on inertia and mass, summarize the information, and use it to explain the mini-experiments.
Strategies: Scaffolded inquiry, productive questioning, interactive video viewing

Lesson 10: Applying Newton’s first law
Students identify forces acting on a golf ball flying through the air, focusing on why it eventually falls to Earth and stops.  They draw a diagram of the situation, adding labeled force arrows.  They watch a video of astronauts hitting a golf ball on the moon, and before hearing the outcome, diagram the situation again, labeling force arrows, predicting what will happen and justifying their prediction.
Strategies: Productive questioning, interactive video viewing

Lesson 11: Newton’s second law
Remind students of the correlation between mass of baby shoe and force needed to move it.  Students watch and take notes on Eureka! videos on speed and acceleration, summarize the information, and use the equation F = m ∙ a to predict which would require more force to move: object with small mass vs. object with large mass, etc.  
Strategies: Productive questioning, interactive video viewing

Lesson 12: Applying Newton’s second law
Students use prior information about planetary mass to predict which planets have the strongest gravitational force and predict how it might affect activities on the planet.  They create posters comparing a favorite sport or activity on Earth versus on the moon or another planet.
Strategy: Authentic assessment

Lesson 13: Newton’s third law
Students use force sensors to generate graphs showing forces on each when they push the sensors together and when they pull the sensors apart.  After observing the equal magnitude and opposite direction, they read about Newton’s third law, restate in their own words, and identify/label force pairs on pictures.
Strategies: Scaffolded inquiry, productive questioning

Lesson 14: Applying Newton’s third law
Students write a paragraph addressing the following prompt: Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Imagine a horse and a cart.  If the horse pulls on the cart, and the cart pulls on the horse, why don’t the two forces cancel out?  They accompany the paragraph with an illustration with labeled forces, using different colors for forces on the horse and the cart.  

Lesson 15: Assessment: Newton’s laws
Students take a quiz on Newton’s laws, restating them and identifying which law is illustrated in a given situation.

Lesson 16: Assessment task: Self-propelled vehicle

  • Day 1: Students examine and play with assorted examples of self-propelled vehicles.  As a group, they decide on the method of self-propulsion they will use for their vehicle and begin planning.
  • Days 2-4: Students build, test, and refine their vehicles.  They sketch the free-body diagrams of the stationary and moving vehicle.
  • Day 5: Students race vehicles as a class, collecting distance and time data to calculate average speed.
  • Day 6: Students work on essay.

Strategy: Authentic assessment

Lesson 17: Reflection
Students revisit anticipation guide from the first day of the unit.  They use what they learned to decide whether the same statements are true or false, and justify their decisions with information they learned.
Strategy: Student reflection