Straws and Balls

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SWBAT discuss and connect to the the idea the different amounts of force can change the speed and direction of of an object in motion.

Big Idea

The students will use a variety of balls and straws to move balls across the floor or table.

Advanced Preparation

1 minutes

The students will need:


*a straw

*a variety of balls (tennis, ping pong, golf, marble, and bouncy balls)

*Science Notebooks


*End of Lesson Exit Ticket.  You will need a copy for each person. 

Setting the Stage

1 minutes

The students will gather in a circle on the carpet.  I will start the lesson with a video about Newton's first law of physics.   I am showing the video because  It will introduce them to a science concept in a fun and engaging way.  By showing a video, I captivate their interest and then can relate their learning to the video.  After the video, I will lead a quick discussion about 1st Law and relate it to today;s activity.  The students will then be teamed up and use straws and balls to try and move balls into motion and to slow/stop balls that are in motion.  They will record their findings in their science notebooks and use their findings to participate in a class discussion.  To end the lesson, the students will have to draw a picture and/or use words to explain their learning about Newton's First Law.

NOTE:  Our district in transitioning to the NGSS.  Although we are implementing some of the units this year, I am still required to teach units that have now been assigned to other grade levels. This unit is one of those units that has been effected by the shifts in grade levels.  I continue to teach this unit because it focuses on the National Science Standard (k-4) B.  "As students describe and manipulate objects by pushing or pulling, throwing, dropping, and rolling, they also begin to focus on the the position and movement of objects."  

It is important that students understand that "the position and motion of an object can be changed by pushing or pulling.  The size of the change is related to the strength of the push or pull."  Establishing this knowledge base will prepare them for 3rd grade when the NGSS requires them to apply concepts of force and motion into their learning (3-PS2).


10 minutes

The students will sit in the circle area and face the SmartBoard.  

"We are going to learn about a scientist named Sir Isaac Newton.  He is a scientist who created some laws about a type of science called Physics.  We will spend the next few science classes looking at his first law of motion.  Let's take a look at this video."

I play the video until the 3:34 second mark.  The rest of the video will be used throughout the unit.

After the video, I quickly ask for students to share what they learned.  

"You are now going to try and activity that will allow you to test Newton's first law and explore the ideas of it."

"Before we begin, I want to define one of the terms that was introduced in the video.  The word is inertia.  Let's come up with a definition and then write the word and meaning on our vocabulary poster."

During this unit, I keep a poster that contains science words that have been introduced and defined on a vocab chart. This way the students can refer back to them and use them in their writing.  I want them to come up with the definition because it will have more meaning if it is developed with them.  If I was to just tell them with no discussion or with out investing their time into the definition, it would have less meaning.


20 minutes

"You will team up and work in groups of two or three.  Your job will be to each take one straw.  Your team must agree on a ball and take that to a spot in the classroom.  I would like you to set your ball on the surface and make sure that it is completely still.  Then you should use your straw and blow air through it as you point it at the ball.  I want you to see if you can move the ball and how hard did you have to blow.  I also want yo to tell me why the ball stopped rolling.  You can use your science notebooks to record what you noticed. Remember, you can use pictures and/or words."

I have included a video of how I introduced the process to the students.

As students are working, I circulate amongst the groups.  I want to see how the students are recording their observations (ER observations & PD observations), and if they are noticing that they have to blow harder to move heavier objects.  To do this, I ask questions that compare their results (i.e. what was the difference between blowing the ping pong ball and the tennis ball?).  

In this situation the students are building on previous experiences and developing a diagram (model) to represent concrete events (SP 2).  The students are also making firsthand observations to collect data that can be used to make comparisons. (SP 3).


10 minutes

"I would like you to please come back to the circle area and bring your science notebooks with you.  I would also like you to bring a chair to sit in the circle with."

"I would like to talk about what you learned today.  Who can share what they observed?"

I want to focus on the fact that the heavier a ball is, the more force that it takes to get the ball rolling. However, I want it to come from their observations and will moderate the conversation to allow for student analysis of what is being presented by peers.  I have included a video that captures this.

 "Think back to the video at the beginning of the lesson.  The person said that everything is lazy and that an object wouldn't stop unless a force stop it.  I would like to hear what caused your ball to stop. Who could share with us?"

This discussion allows students the opportunity to share pictures, drawings, and /or writings of observations (SP 4).  At this point, I don't expect students to be able to use the word friction or identify it as a force.  This will be introduced in a later lesson.


10 minutes

"To end today's lesson, I want you to answer the following question.  Which would be easier to push up a hill with a straw and your breath, a bowling ball, a basketball, or a pingpong ball?"

I am going to hand out a sheet of paper to each of you. Please put your name on the top of it and then answer the question.  You can use words or pictures to help support your thinking.  I want you to be as detailed as you can be."

This question and answer will be used as today's exit slip.  It allows me to see firsthand how well students are comprehending the concept of the day.


5 minutes

The exit ticket will allow me to see if students can apply their learning to a real world situation.  In this case the students would want to pick an item that lighter because it would take the least amount of effort to get it up the hill.

I will collect these responses to see who can apply this knowledge and who was able to express their thoughts through the use of a diagram and/or words.