Reflection: Lesson Planning That's Heavy!-How Does Weight Impact Speed - Section 1: Opening


The opening of this lesson was planned to give students an exposure to how the weight of an object can impact its speed.  To prepare for the lesson, I needed some cars.  I thought I was very clever a I went to Target and purchased 8 matching Hot Wheel Cars.  I thought it would help the impact of the lesson if we all had matching cars.

I returned to my classroom and ripped open the packages and labeled the cars.  I never gave it a second thought that adding weight to the car might slow it down, not speed it up.  Well...I taped a washer to the car and sent it down the track with a matching partner without weight.  The car with the weight was last.  I tried it again.  Same result.  I taped the washer to a different car.  Same result.  It did not matter what car I tried, the washer made the car slower instead of faster.  The experiment was destined to fail!  I started thinking about it and then I realized, " you think the good people at the Hot Wheels Company tested these cars to make sure they were at their optimum weight to produce the fastest speed?" Hmmmmm.

Thankfully, I had purchased several cheaper cars at the dollar store. I had enough that there were four pairs of matching cars.  I repeated the test and this time it worked.  The car was faster with the weight taped to it.  The experiment was saved, but it gave me the opportunity to discuss what happened with this kids at the end of the lesson.  I didn't tell them my conclusion.  I wanted to see what they came up with.  Sure enough, a student said, "Well, Mrs. Baumann, I think the company knows kids want their cars to be fast, so they made them really fast already.  They kind of did this experiment already."

It was nice for the students to envision a real-world application of our experiment.  I think in the future, I would like to further expand this conversation to introduce the students to what an engineer is and what they do.  This will help the students make important connections between what we are learning and the world around them. 

  Take Nothing for Granted
  Lesson Planning: Take Nothing for Granted
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That's Heavy!-How Does Weight Impact Speed

Unit 4: Fast or Slow
Lesson 5 of 9

Objective: Students will be able to express the impact of weight on speed by conducting a simple experiment.

Big Idea: Students have been comparing the speed of different toy cars, now they get a chance to see how weight impacts the speed of these vehicles.

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