Force Causes Motion

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SWBAT identify and describe how force causes motion with humans..and animals!

Big Idea

Using media and background knowledge, students think more deeply about how motion impacts everything we do and connect to some prior knowledge as they think back to our unit about animals.

Teacher Preparation

This lesson aligns to the Essential Standard 1.P.1.1, Explain the importance of a push or a pull to changing the motion of an object. Click here to listen to my Explanation of Essential Standards and Essential Question. Our essential question for today is more broad than the objective. It is 'How can forces affect the motion of an object?' The reason for this question is that this lesson is intended to make it clear to students that forces cause a motion to occur. During the lesson, students watch and analyze lots of examples of forces, which cause motion. Although this may seem like a simplistic relationship, for students a lot of times it can be difficult to verbalize exactly what it is that is causing the force, or exactly what motion is occurring because of it. This lesson targets that connection between the force that is applied and the motion that occurs as a result of it. This understanding aims to lay the foundation of the understanding of forces as the cause and motion as the effect that can then be built upon in subsequent lessons.


*Internet access

*Science journals, pencils

*1 copy per student of Force Causes Motion - Show What You Know Picture Frame (these are 2 per page- cut each page in half)

Warm Up

5 minutes

For a quick start to the lesson, we sing this song about motion! It's also a little about following directions, which never hurts in first grade! We have very quick transitions between subjects (like literacy right into science!) and so I try to include something that gets my students' attention and then I go into the lesson.

After the song, we get our science journals, I say,

"At the top of your page, write down 5 motions you did during that song!"

This is a great way to get out our wiggles,  have a little fun, and then get down to business!



25 minutes

To start off the activity, I introduce the guiding question so students know exactly what we are learning about today. I say,

"Today, our guiding question is 'How can forces affect the motion of an object?' and I am going to show you a video. It's funny one! As you watch, write down difference motions that you see --things that you see the characters doing. So, you are writing a list of motions. Who knows another word for motion? That's right, movement. Got it? Okay!"

I show this video of Donald Duck's Boat Troubles, during which he has lots of funny motions to try to get the boat going again --and to get it to stop sinking! Using media to teach scientific concepts supports Science and Engineering Practice 8--but only if you have a really good discussion after this cartoon!

After the cartoon, I say,

"Okay, make sure you have a few motions on your list. What did one of you write down?"

Now, the goal is to connect the motion back to a force - if the motion was the boat sinking, the force was the water inside the boat pushing the boat down because it was too heavy. If the motion was Donald scooping the water out of the boat, the force was the water flowing into the boat. To connect it for the students, I say,

"This is just like in literacy, when we talk about cause and effect, like when it is a hot day (the cause) and your ice cream melts quickly (the effect). The force is the cause and the motion is the effect. Now, look at your list of motions and see if you can think of the force that caused it. Whisper with a partner next to you and see if you can figure a few of them out, then we'll share together".

When students are ready to share, I use their examples and write them on the board like I would for cause and effect, with an arrow in the middle to show that the force is causing the motion. After a few, I say,

"Let's watch a different video and see if you can pick out some forces that cause motion. This time, it isn't a cartoon, it is some animals at work-sort of!"

This video shows some funny videos of animals trying to get to their food - at the zoo, in kitchens, etc. After each clip, I stop the video and we identify the force of the animal (pushing, pulling, etc.) and the motion that it is causing (sliding, licking, scooping) and I add them to my list that is forming on the board. I ask my students to continue adding to their list in their journals, too. Recording information, including observations, thoughts, and ideas as well as using those observations to describe patterns in the natural world supports Science and Engineering Practice 4, Analyzing and Interpreting Data.

The really important part of this lesson is the conversation that is around the media clips and making sure that everyone understands the relationship between the force that is exerted and the motion that occurs because of the force.

Wrap Up

10 minutes

To end this lesson, I provide the opportunity for my students to show what they know! I give everyone a printed "picture frame" and I say,

"In your picture frame at the bottom there is a rectangle. You are going to write either 'push' or 'pull' inside the rectangle before the arrow. Then, think of a motion that would follow and write that in the rectangle after the arrow. When you have both words written to show the relationship, you can draw a picture to illustrate the force and the motion the occurs because of the force".

As students work, I check to make sure everyone understands and I help anyone who is still not sure of the relationship. When students are done, I collect their work and check for accuracy. If anyone is still really unsure of force and motion, I work with them later and use either classroom manipulatives like blocks or other things that they are used to to show them how force can affect motion, or I show them on the playground!