Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Using diagrams to explain force and motion....

Q:  What can we notice about the motion of the marble on the roller coaster tube?

            1. Explain:  Share the concept of forces and motion using a United Streaming video clip or using a nonfiction text.  I like to use snippets from United Streaming to show a real roller coaster in motion.  The kids get a "Wow" factor and an immediate hook....

            2. Label a diagram of a roller coaster to show: 

            *marble’s position (near the top, traveling down, etc…)

            *force – push or pull (we use a push to start the marble, then gravity pulls it along)

            *motion – how the marble moves (up, down, forward, backward)

This may seem "elementary" but many kids do not connect the science behind the "fun" until they draw it out on a diagram in their notebooks.

I don't know if you can see, but this student wrote all the key words for direction up, forward, down, stop - but never connected it to the vocabulary term motion.  He also didn't write anything about force.  This example is one that shows me he is "having fun", but maybe not connecting the science to the activity.  Intervention is needed here....

This student, on the other hand, uses the correct terms of motion as well as push and pull for force.  She included a key with blue to show force and red to show motion. This shows me she is connecting the science terms to the activity.

            3. Explore:  spend some time exploring with the roller-coasters again using the correct vocabulary of position, forces and motion.  

So much it!


  1. This is seriously such a great activity! I wish I had thought to do it when I was teaching force and motion! I love seeing the progress and kids' work!
    To the Square Inch

  2. Fantastic! Thanks for sharing the process from start to finish!