Big Idea 13: 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.

General Information
Number: SC.6.P.13
Title: Forces and Changes in Motion
Type: Big Idea
Subject: Science
Grade: 6
Body of Knowledge: Physical Science

Related Benchmarks

This cluster includes the following benchmarks.

Related Access Points

This cluster includes the following access points.

Independent

SC.6.P.13.In.1
Identify examples of gravitational and contact forces, such as falling objects or push and pull.
SC.6.P.13.In.2
Demonstrate and describe how forces can change the speed and direction of objects in motion.

Supported

SC.6.P.13.Su.1
Distinguish between pushing and pulling forces (contact) and falling (gravitational force) of an object.
SC.6.P.13.Su.2
Recognize that force can change the speed and direction of an object in motion.

Participatory

SC.6.P.13.Pa.1
Recognize that pushing or pulling makes an object move (contact force).
SC.6.P.13.Pa.2
Recognize that objects fall unless supported by something.
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 topic.

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.

Type: Lesson Plan

Laws and Theories in Nature:

This lesson will begin with a presentation to discuss the major differences between hypotheses, theories and laws in science and society and identify several examples of laws and theories. The students will then go outside and make/write down/photograph examples of nature supporting these laws/theories.

Type: Lesson Plan

Lightning Strikes! :

In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text that addresses what causes lightning and thunder. The text also outlines ways to stay safe during a lightning storm. This informational text is designed to support reading in the content area. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric.

Type: Lesson Plan

Down with Gravity Inquiry and IMRaD Lab Report:

This is an inquiry lesson that explores gravity and mass. It also provides a format and practice for writing a lab report in the IMRaD format.

Type: Lesson Plan

The Physics Behind the Fun:

In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text that describes the physics of roller coasters. This informational text is designed to support reading in the content area. The article was written to answer the question, "Why don't I fall out when a roller coaster goes upside down?" The article is an interesting combination of scientific information about physics of roller coasters along with some fun facts. The lesson plan includes text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric.

Type: Lesson Plan

Levitation Engineers: Exploring Forces:

Students will explore, observe, and infer about the properties and behaviors of magnets by conducting their own experiments with the magnets and the differences between contact and non-contact forces. Students will plan and design a magnetic levitation device using the engineering design process.

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

Gravity! What the deal?:

This lesson teaches the students how distance and mass affect gravity in a system using centripetal force. This is best done when correlating to the formation of the solar system.

Type: Lesson Plan

The Force IS With You:

A centers-based investigation of contact and action-at-a-distance forces with a performance assessment summative. Students will explore the different types of forces in a group work centers approach. After reviewing the data gathered, students will demonstrate the ability to define where each of these forces can found in the real world. Students will be engaged in cooperation and argumentation to achieve these goals.

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

May the force be with you:

This lesson focuses on students being able to identify the difference between contact and non-contact forces. This lesson includes a presentation that shows students contact forces and non-contact forces and has students make a booklet to organize information they have learned.

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

The Amazing Balloon Rocket :

Students will investigate Newton's 3 Laws of Motion as it relates to rocketry by constructing a balloon rocket. They will collect data, calculate velocity of the balloon as it races across the string and calculate velocity and acceleration. Students will construct a Distance-Time graph and a Velocity-Time graph. Students will find the slope of the Distance-Time graph and will explain why this slope represents the velocity of the balloon. Students will further explain why they slope of the Velocity-Time graph represents the acceleration.

Type: Lesson Plan

Hot or cold: Magnets always rock!:

This lesson uses a hands-on-approach to investigate one of the three non-contact forces. Teachers can use this lesson plan to have students explore and investigate how temperature can have an effect on the magnetic strength of a magnet.

Type: Lesson Plan

Static Cling is a Thing:

This is a visual lesson that uses computer simulation and 2 short instructional videos to educate students on electrical force from a distance. It includes a PowerPoint summative test and a rubric for grading the summative.

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

Did you slow the flow, Joe?:

Students will identify the effects of friction on the falling rates of an object in different liquids using speed calculation. With these calculations, the students will synthesize a cause/effect statement from the results comparing thickness (viscosity) of the liquid and the speed on a falling object.

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.

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.

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.

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?

Type: Lesson Plan

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

Electrical Conductors and Insulators:

Students will identify substances capable of carrying an electric charge and those that do not. Students will be able to identify and diagram the parts of a basic series circuit, though the concepts of series and parallel circuits have not be developed yet.

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.

Type: Lesson Plan

Building a Skyscraper—An Engineering Design Challenge:

This Engineering Design Challenge is intended to help students apply the concepts of contact and non-contact forces as they build structures able to withstand the forces of wind and gravity. It is not intended as an initial introduction to this benchmark.

Type: Lesson Plan

Does something have to be touching to interact?:

This is a quick lesson on contact and non-contact forces.

Type: Lesson Plan

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.

Type: Lesson Plan

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 Tutorials

Balancing the Machine:

Use models to solve balance problems on a space station in this interactive, math and science tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Types of Forces:

Examine contact and non-contact forces such as gravity, electrical, and magnetic forces in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Gravity:

Learn about gravity and its relationship with mass and distance in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Perspectives Video: Professional/Enthusiasts

Factoring in the Force of Friction:

Race car drivers discuss importance of calculating tire friction before speeding through turns.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

Type: 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.

Download the CPALMS Perspectives video student note taking guide.

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 Ideas

Design a Powerful Bird Wing:

In this hands-on and web interactive project, students design and build a bird wing powerful enough to spin them in an office chair when it is flapped. By modifying the shape, size, and/or materials used in their design based on observations of natural and man-made transportation methods, students will learn about thrust, forces, durability, and energy use.

Type: Teaching Idea

Newton Laws of Motion-SeaWorld Classroom Activity:

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

Type: Teaching Idea

Text Resources

What Causes Thunder and Lightning?:

This informational text resource is designed to support reading in the content area. The text describes what causes lightning and examines the science behind cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. It also discusses what causes thunder and explains why we see the lightning before we hear the thunder. The last section of the text provides important rules about lightning safety and lists ways to stay safe during a lightning storm.

Type: Text Resource

Why Don't I Fall Out When a Roller Coaster Goes Upside Down?:

This informational text resource is designed to support reading in the content area. This short article was written to answer the question, "Why don't I fall out when a roller coaster goes upside down?" The answer to the question results in an interesting article that combines scientific information about the physics of roller coasters, along with some fun facts and photographs.

Type: 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

Tutorial

Gravitational Forces: Brick vs. Feather:

Would a brick or feather fall faster? What would fall faster on the moon?

Would a brick or feather fall faster?: What would fall faster on the moon?

Type: Tutorial

Video/Audio/Animations

How to Make your Own Electroscope:

Learn how to build an electroscope to do static electricity experiments

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Jupiter: Earth's Shield:

More than 155 planets have been found outside of our solar system since the first extra-solar planet was identified in 1995. The search has long been heavily biased towards finding massive planets with short orbits. Now, to find an Earth-like planet, scientists are looking for a planetary setup that is similar to our own, in which a Jupiter-like planet lies a good distance away from its sun. This video segment adapted from NOVA explores how the arrangement of planets in our solar system may have affected the development of life on Earth.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Solar Wind's Effect on Earth:

The Sun produces a solar wind — a continuous flow of charged particles — that can affect us on Earth. It can, for example, disrupt communications, navigation systems, and satellites. Solar activity can also cause power outages, such as the extensive Canadian blackout in 1989. In this video segment adapted from NASA, learn about solar storms and their effects on Earth.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Virtual Manipulatives

Balance Challenge Game:

Play with objects on a teeter totter to learn about balance.

  • Predict how objects of various masses can be used to make a plank balance.
  • Predict how changing the positions of the masses on the plank will affect the motion of the plank
  • Write rules to predict which way plank will tilt when objects are placed on it.
  • Use your rules to solve puzzles about balancing.

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

How Fast do Objects Move in the Solar Sytem?:

This interactive demonstrates the impacts of the gravitational force of the sun on motion of objects in the solar system.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Student Resources

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

Original Student Tutorials

Balancing the Machine:

Use models to solve balance problems on a space station in this interactive, math and science tutorial. 

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Types of Forces:

Examine contact and non-contact forces such as gravity, electrical, and magnetic forces in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Gravity:

Learn about gravity and its relationship with mass and distance in this interactive tutorial.

Type: Original Student Tutorial

Tutorial

Gravitational Forces: Brick vs. Feather:

Would a brick or feather fall faster? What would fall faster on the moon?

Would a brick or feather fall faster?: What would fall faster on the moon?

Type: Tutorial

Video/Audio/Animations

Jupiter: Earth's Shield:

More than 155 planets have been found outside of our solar system since the first extra-solar planet was identified in 1995. The search has long been heavily biased towards finding massive planets with short orbits. Now, to find an Earth-like planet, scientists are looking for a planetary setup that is similar to our own, in which a Jupiter-like planet lies a good distance away from its sun. This video segment adapted from NOVA explores how the arrangement of planets in our solar system may have affected the development of life on Earth.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Solar Wind's Effect on Earth:

The Sun produces a solar wind — a continuous flow of charged particles — that can affect us on Earth. It can, for example, disrupt communications, navigation systems, and satellites. Solar activity can also cause power outages, such as the extensive Canadian blackout in 1989. In this video segment adapted from NASA, learn about solar storms and their effects on Earth.

Type: Video/Audio/Animation

Virtual Manipulatives

Balance Challenge Game:

Play with objects on a teeter totter to learn about balance.

  • Predict how objects of various masses can be used to make a plank balance.
  • Predict how changing the positions of the masses on the plank will affect the motion of the plank
  • Write rules to predict which way plank will tilt when objects are placed on it.
  • Use your rules to solve puzzles about balancing.

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

How Fast do Objects Move in the Solar Sytem?:

This interactive demonstrates the impacts of the gravitational force of the sun on motion of objects in the solar system.

Type: Virtual Manipulative

Parent Resources

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

Teaching Idea

Design a Powerful Bird Wing:

In this hands-on and web interactive project, students design and build a bird wing powerful enough to spin them in an office chair when it is flapped. By modifying the shape, size, and/or materials used in their design based on observations of natural and man-made transportation methods, students will learn about thrust, forces, durability, and energy use.

Type: Teaching Idea

Virtual Manipulative

Balance Challenge Game:

Play with objects on a teeter totter to learn about balance.

  • Predict how objects of various masses can be used to make a plank balance.
  • Predict how changing the positions of the masses on the plank will affect the motion of the plank
  • Write rules to predict which way plank will tilt when objects are placed on it.
  • Use your rules to solve puzzles about balancing.

Type: Virtual Manipulative