SC.6.P.13.3

Investigate and describe that an unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed, or direction of motion, or both.
General Information
Subject Area: Science
Grade: 6
Body of Knowledge: Physical Science
Idea: Level 2: Basic Application of Skills & Concepts
Big Idea: Forces and Changes in Motion - A. It takes energy to change the motion of objects.

B. Energy change is understood in terms of forces--pushes or pulls.

C. Some forces act through physical contact, while others act at a distance.

Clarification for grades K-5: The target understanding for students in the elementary grades should focus on Big Ideas A, B, and C.

Clarification for grades 6-8: The target understanding for students in grades 6-8 should begin to transition the focus to a more specific definition of forces and changes in motion. Net forces create a change in motion. A change in momentum occurs when a net force is applied to an object over a time interval.

Grades 9-12, Standard 12: Motion - A. Motion can be measured and described qualitatively and quantitatively. Net forces create a change in motion. B. Momentum is conserved under well-defined conditions. A change in momentum occurs when a net force is applied to an object over a time interval.

Date Adopted or Revised: 02/08
Date of Last Rating: 05/08
Status: State Board Approved
Assessed: Yes
Test Item Specifications
  • Item Type(s): This benchmark may be assessed using: MC item(s)
  • Also Assesses
    SC.6.P.12.1 Measure and graph distance versus time for an object moving at a constant speed. Interpret this relationship.

  • Clarification :
    Students will describe and/or explain that an unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed and/or direction.

    Students will interpret and/or analyze graphs of distance and time for an object moving at a constant speed.
  • Content Limits :
    Items requiring the interpretation and/or analysis of a graph may assess the relative speed of an object at various points or sections of the graph and the direction of motion.

    Items will not require a comparison of the speeds of more than five different objects.

    Items will not assess the addition of nonparallel vectors.

    Items will not require the calculation of acceleration.

    Items may require the calculation of net force.

    Items may assess the direction of net force.

    Items addressing force and motion are limited to conceptual understanding.

    Items will not require the use of the formula F=ma.

    Items addressing changes in speed should use the terms positive acceleration and negative acceleration.

    Items may assess understanding of friction as a force in both sliding and stationary situations. Items will not require knowledge of coefficient of friction.

    Items will not imply that a calculation is required in scenarios assessing understanding of no acceleration or no net force.
  • Stimulus Attributes :
    Force diagrams may have a maximum of two sets of parallel forces acting on an object.

    Scenarios addressing the calculation of average speed will not require the calculation of speed using data from a graph.

    Graphs of distance and time may include no more than five constant speeds.
  • Response Attributes :
    Responses will not require the creation of graphs.
  • Prior Knowledge :
    Items may require the student to apply science knowledge described in the NGSSS from lower grades. This benchmark requires prerequisite knowledge from SC.3.P.10.2, SC.4.P.10.2, SC.4.P.10.4, SC.4.P.12.1, SC.4.P.12.2, SC.5.P.10.2, SC.5.P.13.2, SC.5.P.13.3, and SC.5.P.13.4.
Sample Test Items (1)
  • Test Item #: Sample Item 1
  • Question: The diagram below shows forces acting on a model airplane. Both its speed and height above the ground are constant.

    which of the following conditions would cause the model airplane to descend toward the ground?
  • Difficulty: N/A
  • Type: MC: Multiple Choice

Related Courses

This benchmark is part of these courses.
2002040: M/J Comprehensive Science 1 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
2002050: M/J Comprehensive Science 1, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
2003010: M/J Physical Science (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
2003020: M/J Physical Science, Advanced (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
7820015: Access M/J Comprehensive Science 1 (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2018, 2018 and beyond (current))
2002055: M/J Comprehensive Science 1 Accelerated Honors (Specifically in versions: 2014 - 2015, 2015 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)
2003030: M/J STEM Physical Science (Specifically in versions: 2015 - 2022 (current), 2022 and beyond)

Related Access Points

Alternate version of this benchmark for students with significant cognitive disabilities.
SC.6.P.13.In.2: Demonstrate and describe how forces can change the speed and direction of objects in motion.
SC.6.P.13.Su.2: Recognize that force can change the speed and direction of an object in motion.
SC.6.P.13.Pa.3: Recognize the speed (fast or slow) of a moving object.

Related Resources

Vetted resources educators can use to teach the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Lesson Plans

STEM Roller Coaster Engineering:

Students will investigate and describe different types of forces. They will complete an engineering design to build the fastest roller coaster. Students will use variables (distance and time) that change in relationship to each other to solve a real world problem.

Type: Lesson Plan

Need for Speed:

This Word document contains a STEM lesson in which students investigate how unbalanced forces change the speed and/or direction of motion in relationship to the mass of an object, using ratio and rate reasoning to solve real-world problems (with a force, speed, and mass connections). 

Type: Lesson Plan

Robots Get a Job:

In this MEA, students will select the robots that are more efficient at doing a certain type of job. They will have to analyze data tables that include force, force units, mass, mass units, and friction.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Crash Test Dummies:

Students will investigate inertia and Newton's laws of motion by completing an engineering challenge. Students will first investigate how mass affects the inertia of a person riding in a car that comes to a sudden stop. After analyzing the data and discussing the results, students will be asked to design a seat belt that will keep their clay person in the car without sustaining an "injury."

Type: Lesson Plan

Skate Force - Using a Skateboard to Investigate Force, Mass and Acceleration:

This lesson investigates Newton's First and Second Laws of Motion by observation and interpretation of graphs. It includes a stop motion motion video and graphs based on measurements of a skateboard propelled by an electric leaf blower with different sized forces and masses. It allows students to investigate the effects of forces produced by touch, magnetism and gravity. It introduces the concepts that acceleration increases with force and decreases with mass.

Type: Lesson Plan

Up, Up and Away!:

Students will participate in an inquiry lesson where they work in groups to launch straw rockets to the classroom ceiling using balloons as engines. Once the group is successful in reaching the ceiling with their rockets, they are tasked with modifying their rockets to carry paper clip passengers to the ceiling.

Type: Lesson Plan

Inertia-tion:

Students explore and define Newton's First Law and inertia. Students will develop their own skit to demonstrate the properties inertia and how common experiences with unbalanced forces help us understand Newton's First Law.

Type: Lesson Plan

You've Got to Move It, Move it!:

This STEM lesson is a lesson to be done over 3-4 sessions of 45 minutes, possibly longer for inclusion students who will need more direction. It involves lots of collaboration and the Engineering Design Process.

  • Define the Problem
  • Do Background Research
  • Specify Requirements
  • Brainstorm Solutions
  • Choose the Best Solution
  • Do Development Work
  • Build a Prototype
  • Test and Redesign

Students will be designing a vessel that needs to travel four feet, with the use of a fan, across two different types of string (fishing line and yarn). They will be expected to draw the design on an engineering page(s) with explicit details, illustrations, with an emphasis on gravity and the forces that are observed (tension, frictional, normal, pull, etc.). The students will be collaborating on the Law of Gravity, forces, and motion and take a short response assessment at the end of the activity.

Type: Lesson Plan

Is it Balanced or Unbalanced?:

Students will be able to determine the net force of an object, identify the change in motion, and conclude if it is balanced or unbalanced.

Type: Lesson Plan

Rolling With Rube Goldberg:

From making breakfast in the Mary Poppins movie to the OK GO video "This Too Shall Pass" to the Target commercial, we've all seen those crazy, wacky machines that use multiple machines to complete a single task!! Challenge your students to graduate from using dominoes to knock over a cup to building their own Rube Goldberg machine!

During this lesson students will rise the challenge of building their own Rube Goldberg machine. Without even realizing it, students will incorporate their own sense of style of while applying science knowledge to complete this lesson.

Resources and documents are available for the daily lessons, teaching strategies, and any necessary worksheets. As well as a copy of the full (20 pages) lesson.

Type: Lesson Plan

May the neutrally buoyant force be with you !:

  • This lesson helps students understand that forces affect motion and that some forces can be manipulated to be balanced or unbalanced with respect to motion. In the lesson, students use their knowledge of types of forces and free body diagrams to do an inquiry activity where they attempt to make a film canister neutrally buoyant in a 10 gal tank full of fresh water. (I have also used 2 L bottles with tops cut off and an empty pie pan to collect spillage.) Students need to predict, observe, and explain along the way as well as collect and record data to help quantify their results.
  • After the lesson, students apply their new knowledge gained through experiential learning to real life scenarios in an abstract way as a formative assessment.

Type: Lesson Plan

Cosmic Nose Cones:

Students will design specific nose cones for a water bottle rocket. They will test them to find out and rate which one is most effective in terms of accuracy, speed, distance, and cost effectiveness. This information will be used as criteria for a company that designs nose cones for orbitary missions.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Lightyear Rockets:

Students are asked to evaluate and test several rocket fin designs to determine the most effective design. After launch, the students are asked to test an additional design and also design their own rocket fin. Additionally, students will record and graph their results.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

The Battle of the Forces:

This lesson is an engaging way to strengthen students understanding of balanced and unbalanced forces and how these forces change an objects direction of motion. Students will participate in an actual tug of war and determine what factors create an unbalanced force. The lesson not only supports science benchmarks but Math and Language Arts as well.

Type: Lesson Plan

Skateboard Design:

This MEA uses prior knowledge of Newton's Three Laws of Motion and has students design the best skateboard for different clients.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Type: Lesson Plan

Paper Route Logic:

The main problem students will need to solve is helping Lily Rae Wridenhoud find a route that will afford her the quickest time, least distance and highest customer satisfaction rating. Students will be given a map of all the streets leading around the neighborhood and customer rating (smiley faces). Students will need to use a ruler to figure out distances as well as decide elevation numbers on the topographic map. Then they will write out the route they have chosen to give Lily, and write a short explanation as to why this is the quickest and least distance traveled. Students will then be asked to look over their findings and be informed that some of the old clients have canceled the paper delivery and a few new paper clients have signed on. Does their new route still fit their findings?

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

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The Physics of Land Yachting:

In this lesson, students will explore motion related to an object in terms of its change in position over time compared to a reference point.

Students will be given a variety of simple materials to create and test their very own land yachts to explore motion.

Type: Lesson Plan

Air Force:

The students will engage in an open inquiry developing an experiment pertaining to unbalanced forces.

The students will create an experiment and test their hypothesis.

Content Statement: Tell me if an unbalanced force affects speed, direction or both.

Type: Lesson Plan

Balanced or Not:

This lesson will help students clarify the difference between balanced and unbalanced forces and the students will be able to demonstrate the forces through the game tug-of-war. Students will be engaged in whole group discussion about their proir knowledge. They will also be engaged in small group discussion sharing examples they created and described about balanced and unbalanced forces. This lesson will allow the students to collect and record data from the different grouping scenerios of tug-of-war and answer conclusion questions based on the data collected. Students should gain a solid foundation about these concepts after the completion of this lesson.

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Lunar Landers: Exploring Gravity :

The attached engineering design lesson plan elaborates on the PBS Kids online resource and will probably take from 4-5 class periods. It takes the students through the engineering design process which includes the following components: Identify the Problem, Brainstorm and Design a Solution, Test and Evaluate, Redesign, Reflect and Share the Solution.

Type: Lesson Plan

Parachutes For Sale:

The students will be asked to help a company choose a design to market for their new business. The company gives students four prototypes to begin with, but asks the students to create one of their own if they wish to further the research. After choosing one of the models and writing a report to declare their findings and explain their reasoning, students will then be given restrictions to the parachute. They are asked to find a material that is light yet strong, and resistant to tearing and breaking. Students will have to create parachutes using the chosen model but made with different materials to establish the best overall material.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

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Protective egg system:

The lesson is designed to provide and understanding the concept of unbalanced forces. The students also learn that velocity can change as a result of an unbalanced force. If the students can complete the inquiry based activity, as well as, the short writing summary to reinforce what they learned, they will have gained an excellent foundation for unbalanced force and how velocity is affected.

Type: Lesson Plan

Original Student Tutorial

Unbalanced Forces for the Win!:

Learn how unbalanced forces cause a change in speed, direction or both using sports-themed, interactive tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

KROS Pacific Ocean Kayak Journey: Kites, Wind, and Speed:

Lofty ideas about kites helped power a kayak from California to Hawaii.

Related Resources:
KROS Pacific Ocean Kayak Journey: GPS Data Set[.XLSX]
KROS Pacific Ocean Kayak Journey: Path Visualization for Google Earth[.KML]

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiast

Perspectives Video: Teaching Ideas

Balancing Forces on a Segway:

Feeling off-balance when it comes to motion? Try this idea.

Type: Perspectives Video: Teaching Idea

Dropsonde Construction and Hurricane Forces:

Don't get too carried away, but make sure you are having fun while learning about how hurricane researchers gather data! Produced with funding from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Teaching Idea

Pinewood Derby Forces and Motion:

Let's get rolling and explore the physics behind rolling cars! Make sure you stay on track. Produced with funding from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: Perspectives Video: Teaching Idea

Teaching Idea

Newton Laws of Motion-SeaWorld Classroom Activity:

Students will correlate Newton's Laws to various animal behaviors.

Type: Teaching Idea

Text Resource

Baseball: From Pitch to Hits:

This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. The text describes the science behind baseball by analyzing an actual pitch that took place in a Royals vs. Tigers game. The text describes how Newton's First Law affects the pitch and then describes how energy is transferred from ball to bat. Finally, the text explains how scientists use several methods to analyze the physics of a pitch.

Type: Text Resource

Virtual Manipulatives

Forces and Motion: Basics:

Explore the basic principles of forces and motion with this interactive simulator.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

The Ramp:

The students must apply force to a given object and try to push it up the ramp. They will see the forces being applied to the object at all times.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

STEM Lessons - Model Eliciting Activity

Cosmic Nose Cones:

Students will design specific nose cones for a water bottle rocket. They will test them to find out and rate which one is most effective in terms of accuracy, speed, distance, and cost effectiveness. This information will be used as criteria for a company that designs nose cones for orbitary missions.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Lightyear Rockets:

Students are asked to evaluate and test several rocket fin designs to determine the most effective design. After launch, the students are asked to test an additional design and also design their own rocket fin. Additionally, students will record and graph their results.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Paper Route Logic:

The main problem students will need to solve is helping Lily Rae Wridenhoud find a route that will afford her the quickest time, least distance and highest customer satisfaction rating. Students will be given a map of all the streets leading around the neighborhood and customer rating (smiley faces). Students will need to use a ruler to figure out distances as well as decide elevation numbers on the topographic map. Then they will write out the route they have chosen to give Lily, and write a short explanation as to why this is the quickest and least distance traveled. Students will then be asked to look over their findings and be informed that some of the old clients have canceled the paper delivery and a few new paper clients have signed on. Does their new route still fit their findings?

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Parachutes For Sale:

The students will be asked to help a company choose a design to market for their new business. The company gives students four prototypes to begin with, but asks the students to create one of their own if they wish to further the research. After choosing one of the models and writing a report to declare their findings and explain their reasoning, students will then be given restrictions to the parachute. They are asked to find a material that is light yet strong, and resistant to tearing and breaking. Students will have to create parachutes using the chosen model but made with different materials to establish the best overall material.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Robots Get a Job:

In this MEA, students will select the robots that are more efficient at doing a certain type of job. They will have to analyze data tables that include force, force units, mass, mass units, and friction.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Skateboard Design:

This MEA uses prior knowledge of Newton's Three Laws of Motion and has students design the best skateboard for different clients.

Model Eliciting Activities, MEAs, are open-ended, interdisciplinary problem-solving activities that are meant to reveal students’ thinking about the concepts embedded in realistic situations. Click here to learn more about MEAs and how they can transform your classroom.

Original Student Tutorials Science - Grades K-8

Unbalanced Forces for the Win!:

Learn how unbalanced forces cause a change in speed, direction or both using sports-themed, interactive tutorial. 

Student Resources

Vetted resources students can use to learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.

Original Student Tutorial

Unbalanced Forces for the Win!:

Learn how unbalanced forces cause a change in speed, direction or both using sports-themed, interactive tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Virtual Manipulative

The Ramp:

The students must apply force to a given object and try to push it up the ramp. They will see the forces being applied to the object at all times.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Parent Resources

Vetted resources caregivers can use to help students learn the concepts and skills in this benchmark.