Off to the Races-Applying What We Know About Movement

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Students will be able to alter a toy vehicle to reflect knowledge of movement and speed.

Big Idea

The students have been fun exploring movement and speed. Now it's time for them to have fun applying this knowledge in a friendly race.


5 minutes

This lesson serves as a culminating activity and informal assessment for our exploration of movement and speed. I gather the students together for a short discussion prior to the activity. 

I say to the students, We have had a lot of fun learning about movement and speed. We found out that some things that we did could change the speed of the car.  Now it's time for us to take everything that we know and use it in a fun activity.  We are going to have a race to see who can come up with a toy car that moves the fastest. I am going to have you go to your work stations and we will talk about what we are going to do!

Assessment Activity

30 minutes

Supplies Needed:

  • Something that can be used as a track.  A length of board (like a 2" x 4" that can reach from the edge of a table to the floor) for each group or a set of "Hot Wheels" track that will reach from the floor to the table for each group.    See photo of sample set up. 
  • A "work station" that would have a variety of "Matchbox" type cars, masking tape, washers, quarters, etc. 

I give the students direction for the activity:  I say to the students, You are going to find a car that you think will be fast.  Then you are going to make adjustments to the car to see if you can get it to travel faster.  You can add more weight to the car using the washers and tape that are at the work station.  Use your tracks to test the cars to see if you have increased the car's speed or if you need to make adjustments.  You will have about 10-15 minutes to come up with the car that will be raced against the others in the class to see whose is the fastest.

I tell the students to begin their work and I circulate around to observe them.  I am specifically listening for ways that the students will be adjusting the cars to try to increase its speed.  I make notes on my class list about different contributions, conversations, ideas, etc.  At times, I help students work through disagreements about how to tackle the challenge (see video).

At the end of the work time, I call the class together for the race!

The Race

10 minutes

For this part of the lesson, I set up two of the "Hot Wheel" tracks in the front of the classroom so they can be seen by the entire class.  I say to the students,  It is time for our race.  I invite the students to bring their cars forward.  I mark each table groups car so we are certain to know whose is whose. 

We then begin race the cars, having the winners compete against winners until we determine which car is the fastest.  When we are all done, I ask the students some questions about our race.

Why do you think car____ won?  What made it faster than the other cars?

I bring out the balance scale so we can weight the cars to see if the heaviest car won.  If it is not the heaviest car that won, we discuss why that might be.

I ask them what other things might impact that speed of the car (the wheels, how tall the car is, etc.)  I invite the students to make some guesses as to whether these things impacted the speed of the car.

I congratulate all of the students on a job well done!