Forces and Motion Lesson

Through the years, we’ve seen teaching trends come and go… but one thing hasn’t changed: students LOVE anything related to balloons and rockets.  (So do we.)  And when you’re talking about rockets, you’re talking about forces and motion!

Take a look at this free lesson on forces and motion.  We’re using balloons as our rocket “engines” to power these simple cars.  The activity is basic enough to work with younger students, and can easily be augmented for a more advanced group.  This lesson invites all kinds of variations.  You might say the sky’s the limit!

Click on the image below for a full-size, full-color PDF of this easy-to-implement forces and motion lesson.  Enjoy!

Forces and Motion Discussion Starters

Forces and motion are all around us.  You might even say they make the world go ’round.  In 1687 Isaac Newton attempted to explain the movements of everything in the universe—from a pea rolling on a plate to the position of the planets.  It’s staggering to think about how much of our daily life involves some aspect of Newton’s Laws of Motion.

This is one science topic that can be easily approached by using examples from our collective life experiences.  Starting a discussion about forces and motion with your students is easy.  All you have to do is drop a feather…  nudge a toy car forward… pull open a door.

We’ve put together a collection of interesting topics and interactive games that you can use to get a conversation going with your students.  Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Forces and Motion TV

No matter what grade you teach, at some point you will surely need to introduce your students to the three Laws of Motion developed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1687.  His Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica took Newton two years to write and was the culmination of more than 20 years of thinking.

That was more than 300 years ago.  Today, we live in the YouTube era.  Videos allow us to quickly summarize important scientific concepts like forces and motion in dramatic ways that your students will understand and remember.  We’ve gathered some excellent examples here.  Enjoy!

Forces and Motion in the News

You can’t talk about forces and motion without talking about Isaac Newton.  His three Laws of Motion were published more than 300 years ago, and yet their basic concepts—inertia, acceleration, momentum, and mass—are still the standard for how we discuss forces and motion today.  The laws may have been refined over the years (most famously by Einstein) but they still reign as incontrovertible scientific laws.  We couldn’t send the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit without Newton.

While there may not be much NEW about Newton’s Laws, there is still plenty to say about how they affect the world around us.  Read on for some interesting news reports related to forces and motion.  Let us know if you find an article you’d like us to post!

Teaching Newton’s Laws Easily

Missile-aneous Scientific Principles | Teaching Newton’s Laws Easily

by: Tami O’Connor

One of the things I enjoy most about my job at Educational Innovations is conducting teacher workshops.  It’s not quite the same as being in the classroom in front of twenty-plus students, but it’s fun nonetheless.  My favorite presentation is titled, 3-2-1 Blastoff!  In it, we deal with energy, forces, and motion.  I use the Mighty Missile Launcher to demonstrate these topics.

It is exactly that…  a missile launcher.  The good news is this missile launcher can be used safely in a classroom with children from kindergarten to High School. Participants need safety glasses or goggles.

The launcher is primarily constructed of a film canister, a straw, and a balloon. The balloon has a sponge-like material inside that functions to re-inflate the balloon quickly.  The balloon is attached to the film canister so little air is able to escape.  The film canister pivots, allowing you to aim it at differing angles.  The four missiles are simply straws, sealed on one end, with foam fins that stabilize them as they fly through the air.

I first demonstrate how the missile is launched.  The missile is loaded onto the launcher by sliding it onto the straw that is slightly less narrow than the missile.  Since the balloon is connected to the film canister, air can flow easily between the two.  Depressing the balloon forces air into the film canister and out through the attached straw.  When a missile is loaded onto the straw, the forced air propels it into the air.  The harder and more quickly the balloon is squeezed, the faster the air flows into the missile.

Next, I make groups of three or four individuals, and I challenge my teachers to consistently land three out of four missiles inside a target area 1 meter away.  Seems like a cinch, right?  Not so fast…  As with every good science activity, there are several variables that must be controlled.  The first is the force at which the missile is launched.  The harder and faster the balloon is squeezed, the faster the air is compressed and the farther the missile travels.  The second is the angle at which the film canister points.  The greater the angle, the higher and shorter (in horizontal distance) the missile travels.