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McREL Standards Activity

Force and Motion

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will understand the relationship between the strength of a force and the effect on an object.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
 Standard 10.Understands forces and motion
   Level II [Grade 3-5]
   Benchmark 6. Knows the relationship between the strength of a force and its effect on an object (e.g., the greater the force, the greater the change in motion; the more massive the object, the smaller the effect of a given force)
Student Product:class chart
Material & Resources:several balls of various size and weight: golf ball, basketball, tennis ball, pinpong ball, soccar ball, softball, marble, exercise ball, beach ball; a balance; data chart (can use the one provided or create something similar); yardsticks and/or tape measures; access to gym, hallway, or other large, smooth surfaced area.
Teacher's Note:No supplementary notes for this activity.
Each student should be given a role in this activity. The roles will be "forces" (hard and gentle), "spotters," "measurers," and a record keeper.

Number, weigh, and record each ball on the data chart. This data will be recorded twice for each ball, as there are two different forces.  

At one end of the gym (or other suitable site), mark a starting line. Allow the students a few minutes to practice pushing the balls in order to get the feel of a hard force and a gentle force. Another option would be for the students to invent a device that would keep the force consistant, such as a paddle pulled back to a certain point or a slingshot-type apparatus. In either case, the students need to understand the concept of "controls" in an investigation. If the force is not controlled (i.e., the same every time) the results will not be acceptable.

Put the first ball on the line and the first "force" will give it a gentle push. The "spotter" will go to where the ball stops and the "measurer" will measure the distance traveled. Record data, repeat two more times, and calculate the average distance traveled.

Put the same ball on the line and the second "force" will give it a hard push.  Measure and record the distance three times.  Calculate the average distance traveled.

Repeat these steps for each ball.

As a class, discuss the results of the experiment.  Which balls traveled the farthest distance?  Which balls traveled the shortest distance?  How did each ball respond to each type of force?  What role did mass play in this experiment? Why was it important to repeat the experiment three times?

After this activity, the students should have a clear understanding of simple force and motion.  The harder the force, the greater the effect.  The larger the mass, the smaller the effect of the force.

BallMassType of ForceTrial 1 distanceTrial 2 distanceTrial 3 distanceAverage distance