Monday, January 2, 2012

Force and Motion

How do you start in fourth grade to introduce force and motion? Here in Virginia they have been exposed to this concept in k-1 learning about pushes and pulls related to toys, then in 2 expanding to pushes/pulls as related to magnets, and then in 3rd grade related to simple machines.  Where do we go from there?

Here are our State Required Standards:
SOL Standard 4.2

The student will investigate and understand characteristics and interaction of moving objects. Key concepts include

a)      motion is described by an object’s direction and speed;

b)      forces cause changes in motion;

c)      friction is a force that opposes motion; and

d)     moving objects have kinetic energy. do I break it that it is interesting and meaningful to my students?

Part One:  Force/Motion with Roller coasters:

·         describe the position of an object (by location to another object or background)

·         collect and display data in a table and line graph to show time and position data for a moving object

·         explain that speed is a measure of motion

·         interpret data to determine if the speed of an object is increasing, decreasing, or remaining the same

·         identify the forces that cause an object’s motion

·         describe the direction of an object’s motion: up, down, forward, backward

·         infer that objects have kinetic energy

                        Part Two:  Mass and Friction with Cars

·         design an investigation to test:  “If the mass of an object increases, then the force needed to move it will increase.”

·         design an investigation to determine the effect of friction on moving objects:  write a hypothesis, identify dependent variable; independent variable, and constants.  Conduct a fair test, collect and record the data, analyze the data and report the results of the data

What do we need for part one?  Roller coaster tubes - I got this idea from More Picture Perfect Science Lessons.  They have a great lesson in there that I use as the "hook" for my unit.

Go to the local Lowes or Home Depot and buy some hose insulation tubing.  They are super cheap...I think I spent $10 total and had enough for the class. 

They look like this:

Then you will cut them in half - so that they are the same length but have an opening on top.

   The only other materials you will need are marbles, cups, tape and maybe some toilet paper tubes for tunnels.  More information to come...


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  2. Thanks for sharing! Force and motion is something our kiddos struggle with. Great ideas!

  3. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Sheep in a Jeep lesson from Picture Perfect Science Lessons 3-6. I've used it for several years now with 5th graders in Texas (our force and motion standards look very similar to the ones you listed). I just supplement with having them create their own experiment afterward!

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    Thanks for sharing so much on your blog!


  5. One thing that I struggle with as a high school physics teacher is the preconception that Force is a thing that is given and taken. One thing that would help your students in the future is approaching Force as an interaction between two things. This would set them up better further along in Science. Helping them to understand that in a push, there needs to be a pusher, a pushee, and contact between the two (except in very specific cases of gravity, magnets, and electrical charge). This would also help them to figure out what forces are acting on an object. Just that slight shift in language helps them approach forces in a different way and helps their physics teacher later as well.