Creating A User Guide To Solve Basic Momentum Problems

1 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


Students will create a user guide to demonstrate their understanding of problems related to the momentum of an object.

Big Idea

User guides are an essential tool for communicating ideas about science.


The goal of this lesson is for students to demonstrate their understanding of momentum by creating a user guide on basic momentum properties. This lesson addresses the HS-PS2-2 standard because it asks students to solve problems using the idea that the total momentum is conserved when there is no net force. This lesson addresses the HSA-SSE.A.1a and HSA-REI.B.3 standards because it asks students to use a mathematical model of momentum to solve problems for either momentum, velocity or mass. It aligns with the NGSS Practices of Using Mathematical and Computational Reasoning (SP5), Constructing Explanations (SP6), and Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information (SP8) because students will create a user guide that shows a 9th grade audience how to solve a set of practice problems that are related to an object's momentum. 

Within this lesson, students use an article that discusses key parts to a user guide or manual and their physics understanding to create a user guide for 9th-grade physical science students. Students will work in pairs to create user guides on simple momentum problems. Finally, students write headlines that highlight their assessment of the most important and challenging parts of the lesson. Within this lesson, I ask students to focus on communicating their current understanding of momentum. I assess student understanding throughout the lesson using informal check-ins, and will assess each student's work at the end of the school day on a scale of 1 (Advanced Beginner) to 5 (Highly Proficient).


10 minutes

This portion of the lesson follows a routine to communicate the ideas that students need to be proficient in by the end of the semester and it also highlights the goals of the lesson to students. I summarize the key ideas through the bell-ringer activity and take attendance while students transfer the projected information into their notebooks.

Today's additional piece of information is a BIG IDEA which states that creating a user guides are an essential tools for communicating concepts related to momentum. Later on within this lesson I ask students to use an article to craft user guides that construct an explanation of key momentum terms for a 9th-grade student audience.  In this lesson, I want students to work in pairs and use information gathered from our digital textbook to construct explanations for momentum problems.

Overview of User Guides for Science

10 minutes

In this section of the lesson, I ask students to watch the video below. I play the video on the interactive whiteboard at the front of the room for students to watch as a whole class. Students spend about 2 to 5 minutes watching the video and spend the remainder of the time looking at the article from the video.  I also post the video and the article I discuss in the video on our class Edmodo page for students to view at their own pace when creating their user guides. During class, I provide Chromebooks for students to access the article. I circulate and answer questions whenever students have them.  Some of the questions that students ask include, "Will we be penalized if our guides are longer/shorter than 10 pages?" and "Can we provide our users with the answers to practice problems, so they can check their answers?"

Pair Work: Creating a User Guide For Understanding Basic Momentum Problems

45 minutes

Students work in pairs to create a user guide. During the first five minutes or so, students create a game plan and decide how to divvy up the work. Some student pairs decide to break the project into a series of tasks. Other students work together on each section of their user guide.

I ask that each user guide include:

  • A Cover Page
  • Graphics(labeled diagrams, images, etc.)
  • Definitions 
  • Section Titles
  • Page numbers 
  • Between 5-10 pages
  • 2-4 example problems (with solution)
  • 2-4 practice problems 

I project these requirements on the interactive whiteboard at the front of the room. Students spend the next 35-40 minutes creating a user guide, using Chromebooks and their notes to gather information to incorporate into their guides. The majority of students use Chromebooks to go to either our openStax textbook or the physics classroom website or a combination of the two websites.  A few students use the Hyper physics website, and almost all students use Chromebooks to search for images. Some student trace the images, while others print images to paste into their user guides.

Most students are able to complete this task in the allotted class time, but I allow students to turn this assignment in after school ends by dropping their complete guides in my mail box in the main office. I assess the user guides on student's ability to communicate their current level of understanding and identifying important momentum concepts to a 9th grade audience. I grade the user guides and share with 9th grade physical science students the following week. Click here for an example of student work.


10 minutes

Throughout this lesson, I give students multiple opportunities to listen to one another and to control the process of their learning.  With this in mind, I include a closing activity for this lesson as I do in others so that students are assessed on their ability to communicate their current level of understanding and identifying important concepts from today's lesson. 

The Closure activity asks students to identify the key parts of this lesson and also works to make student thinking visible regarding their ideas on what is important for teaching other students how to solve momentum problems. Some student responses include, "Creating a game plan so everyone knows what they are doing for the user guide", "It was hard trying to explain how to solve problems to someone I do not know and cannot see", and "The most important part was writing short instructions on how to solve momentum problems." I check student responses to this closure to determine whether students are proficient in the understanding the mathematical behavior of key momentum terms.