Understanding Force Through Tug of War Day 1

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SWBAT understand that an object will not be in motion if the forces being applied on it are equal.

Big Idea

Today the students will gather to play a game of Tug of War. Through the participation in the game, students will explore the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces.

Background Knowledge and Advanced Preparation

1 minutes

NOTE:  This is a two day lesson. 


*Science Notebook,  *Large Tug of War Rope, *Science Notebooks, *Large Open Space (for game).

**In each science notebook, you should write in or type and paste in the question; How can we make the rope move?

**During today's Morning Meeting, I share, define, and discuss the terms Force and Gravity.  I find it necessary to use other parts of my day, to introduce terms, in order to get everything in.

Today's class will start in the gym or out on the playground (depending on the weather).  The students will observe the rope laying on the ground and come up with ways that they think it could move.  

On the 2nd day, the students will participate in a few games of Tug of War.  The observation of and participation in this game will act as the "backbone" for the post activity discussion.  The lesson will end with a twist on the game by having an adult pull on the middle of the rope (during a round) in a third direction.  

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 affected 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 also important that students learn that pushes and pulls can have different strengths and directions, and can change the speed or direction of its motion to start or stop it.  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).

Engage: Introducing the Game

15 minutes

Before leaving for the gym/playground, the students should already have their science notebook, and a pencil.  The class is brought to the space where the rope will already be laying on the floor.  By using a surface with a basketball court on it, I can use the midline as a mark for the game.  I want to already have the rope in place so that the students see it completely at rest and not being moved around by me. This is important for the purposes of the opening discussion.  

"I would like you find a spot so that you can sit on the floor and see the rope and open your notebooks to today's entry.  Is the rope moving?  How can we make the rope move?  I would like you to work with a partner and write your ideas in your notebooks.  I have already pasted this question into your notebook."

I give the students a few minutes to brainstorm ideas with each other and then record their ideas.  I will team stronger writers and spellers with weaker ones to help with the pace of this part of the lesson. 

"I would now like each group to team up with another group and share your ideas.  I will give you three minutes to talk with each other.  I want you to notice which ideas were the same as your own and which ones were different."

I am asking them to work with another group to keep their attention and focus in such a big space and I also want them to quickly hear what other students thought.

"Let's now share some of your ideas as a group."

The goal of this conversation is that students discuss the ideas of pulling and pushing the rope.  

Explore: Let the Games Begin!

40 minutes

"We are going to play a game of Tug of War.  To play this game, we will need to make two teams of two.  How do you think we should make the teams?  Why do you think so?"

I am asking students to give suggestion to see if they think about strength/force that one team could apply compared to another team.  I am ok if this doesn't come up but want to allow for the opportunity for the discussion to happen.  I try different suggestions during the different rounds that we play.  

"I am now going to put you into teams of four.  Your job will be to create teams and record them in your journal.  You should tell me what the teams should be and what might you be asking as the teams are formed.  An example could be, The Teacher vs The Students.  My question would be, Is the teacher stronger than the students?  This question is what scientist call a testable question.  Your job is create at least three different scenarios and have one testable question for each scenario."

I want to use this opportunity to introduce the idea of testable questions.  It is important to give them an example to use as they make this first attempt at creating their own.

"I would now like some teams to share their team selections.  As you present your two teams, I will also ask you to tell us the testable question that you have created."

Although I only actually test three or four of the questions, it is important to hear from each group to make sure they have created or get help in wording their question appropriately.

"I would like to now test some of the questions you have created.  Who can give me one of their scenarios and tell us the question that they created?"

I list all of the scenarios that are mentioned and write them on a piece of chart paper.  

"I have just recorded all of the scenarios.  We are now going to decide on three of them that we will test tomorrow.  I am going to circle 4 of them and then we will vote.  You can vote for two of them.  We will test the three that get the most votes."

"Now that we have decided which ones we are going to test, I would like you to write each scenario in  your notebook.  Please write each scenario on its own page."