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Force and Motion Unit


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Investigation #1 - Here to There

Students are introduced to motion as a change of position, and distance as the magnitude of a change in position. They work with air trolleys to define terms, gather and graph data, and analyze outcomes. They analyze graphic representations of races between several different competitors in both print and multimedia formats.

Essential Question:  When is an object in motion?

Guiding Questions:  How are position, motion, and distance defined?  How are reference points used to measure the distance moved by an object?  How is distance calculated?

Investigation #2 - Speed

Students learn that speed is the rate at which an object changes position. They gather data from cars rolling down ramps and representations of moving vehicles to investigate and solve speed problems. They are introduced to making and analyzing distance-versus-time graphs.

Essential Question: How fast do objects move?

Guiding Questions: How is speed defined, what is the symbol, and how is it calculated?  How can speed be displayed on a graph?  How is the slope of a distance vs. time graph related to speed?

Investigation #3 - Comparing Speeds

Students learn how to analyze and represent speed to solve problems. They gather data for students walking and running, and use representations of boat races and the Iditarod race to investigate and solve speed problems. They practice making and analyzing speed graphs.

Investigation #4 - Representing Motion

Students learn to represent motion in graphs. They distinguish between position graphs and distance graphs and analyze both to describe motion. They extract data from word problems, create data tables, and construct motion graphs. They also collect and organize data for their own motion, using meter tapes and stopwatches.

Investigation #5 - Acceleration

Students learn to identify and measure changing velocity and calculate position and velocity from time and acceleration data. The experience constant velocity and acceleration with their own movement. They collect and analyze velocity and position data using mechanical and electronic Dotcars.

Investigation #6 - Force

Students are introduced to forces and their relationship to motion. Students use pushers and spring scales to explore the idea that forces add; the sum is net force. Friction is introduced as a force opposing motion. Students explore friction with real-world and simulated force-bench activities.

Investigation #7 - Gravity

Students learn that gravity is a universal force pulling objects to Earth with predictable acceleration. They use spring scales to establish the relationship between force and mass. They explore real and hypothetical falling objects and replicate one of Galileo's experiments.

Investigation #8 - Momentum

Students learn to analyze collision interactions in terms of momentum and impulse. Students use the Dotcar to collect data for analysis. Understanding Car Crashes, a video, is viewed and discussed. The finale is a version of the egg drop called Bean Brains, in which students apply their knowledge of momentum.

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