STEM Lesson Plans: Force and Motion
Hot Wheels–and the many small vehicles that are not quite Hot Wheels–are a universal toy that almost all children enjoy. My daughter loves them, particularly sending them across the hardwood floors in our house.
Their ubiquity makes them a perfect inclusion in STEM lesson plans. Students are already familiar with the classic toy which may gain some buy-in.
Add one steep incline and you can begin testing just how the weight of each car impacts the distance they travel.
This detailed lesson plan emphasizes learning how to plan and conduct an investigation.
Recommended Grade Level: 3rd
For another approach to the same general idea, you can also review this 3-day Ramp It Up lesson plan.
I’m not sure a STEM activity could gain more credibility than being featured on NASA’s website (use this link in conjunction with above link to get additional approaches to constructing the parachute and discussion questions post-activity).
You can engage your students by allowing them to construct their very own parachutes using common household materials.
In this lesson, students will learn about gravity, air resistance, and acceleration.
Just watch out for crashing eggs!
Recommended Grade Level: 6th – 8th (allowing students to customize the parachute or construct at home could appeal to older age groups)
The Push and Pull guide provides exploratory activities to introduce children to basic physics concepts.
Fun STEM activities include soda bottle bowling, making chair pulleys, and computer games to provide skils reinforcement.
The guide also includes an alternative assessment rubric to the one’s used in the above lesson plans.
Recommended Grade Level: 1st – 3rd
This lesson’s goal is to place Newton’s Laws in contexts that students can understand and apply.
It provides directions for two in-class activities: ramps (variation of the Hot Wheels lesson plan featured earlier) and balloon rockets.
In addition to understanding Newton’s Laws, the physics activities emphasize inference, observation, and prediction. Students are asked to make data measurements and interpret those results.
Recommended Grade Level: 8th
- 20 activities and/or demonstrations teaching the principles of motion
- Understanding Car Crashes: It’s Basic Physics! – Collection of in-class activities related to Newton’s Laws and aimed at grade levels 9th-12th.
- Pushes, Pulls, and Muscles exercise designed by the Institute of Physics and aimed at 11- to 19-year-olds.
- Classroom Activities for Force & Motion (approximately 15 activities related to motion, forces, and Newton’s Laws)
- Forces and Motion Unit Guide from UK Department for Children, Schools, and Family