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Middle School Curriculum

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Force and Motion | NGSS

Force and Motion | NGSS

25 - 30 40 to 50 minute class periods (5 - 6 weeks)

How can we reduce the risks of motor vehicle accidents?

Unit in early stage of development - see lab-aids.com/third-edition for updates as available.

PE Assessment Example: Unit in early stage of development — see lab-aids.com/third-edition for updates as available.

Force and Motion is part of Issues and Science three year middle school program, designed by SEPUP at the Lawrence Hall of Science. This five to six week unit anchors the lessons around the the socio-science issue: How can we reduce the risks of motor vehicle accidents? Investigative phenomena within the 6 activities connect back to the issue and storyline. This unit builds towards and assesses PEs PS2-1, PS2-2, PS3-1, ETS1-3, ETS1-4.


Content in Force and Motion | NGSS is organized into 15 activities, as follows:

Activity Title Activity Type Activity Overview
1. Improving Car and Driver Safety Talking It Over This activity introduces students to a scenario about car and driver safety. They analyze and compare some features of two vehicles in order to choose the one they determine is safer. In the process, they discover they need to know more about the science involved in accidents and the design of vehicle safety features if they are to make a good decision. They also consider how engineers contribute to the design of safer vehicles.
2. Measuring and Graphing Speed Laboratory Students use a cart, ramp, and track to measure the time it takes for a cart to roll 100 centimeters. They calculate speed from their distance and time measurements and express it as a rate of motion. Students then match segments of a distance-versus-time graph to portions of a narrative describing two students’ journeys to school. The graphs allow students to determine both the speed and the relative position of an object with respect to a fixed point.
3. Speed and Kinetic Energy Laboratory Students continue using the cart system to explore the qualitative relationship between the speed of the cart and its kinetic energy (KE). Students release the cart from different heights on the ramp and measure the speed of the cart. They then use their understanding of energy transfers to investigate what happens when a block is in the path of the cart. Using different release heights, students compare how far a block placed on the track moves after the cart hits it. Students discover that a faster-moving cart moves the block farther—more KE has been transferred from the cart to the block.
4. Mass and Kinetic Energy Laboratory Students plan and carry out an experiment to investigate the effect of the cart’s mass on its KE. Similar to the previous activity, they measure how far a block on the track moves after the cart hits it. They vary mass by loading one or more metal cylinders to the cart. They discover that the more massive the cart, the further the block moves, indicating a greater transfer of KE.
5. Quantifying Kinetic Energy Investigation Students examine cards indicating the KE of cars of different masses going different speeds. Each pair of students will examine either one car type going at different speeds, or multiple car types all going the same speed. Pairs of students construct graphs of the data they collected and organized, and then share with the other pair in their group. The class conducts a gallery walk of all of the graphs, and determines that KE is directly proportional to mass, and proportional to the square of the speed.
6. Changing Direction Laboratory Students investigate direction of motion by making observations of a marble’s motion around a circular track. They predict and then observe the direction the marble rolls when a section of the track is removed. They develop an argument to explain their observations. They also investigate whether changing the mass of the marble affects the motion of the marble.
7. Changing Speed Laboratory Students conduct a hands-on investigation using a modified cart system to investigate balanced and unbalanced forces. Students observe that a cart’s motion doesn’t change when forces are balanced. When students apply unbalanced forces to the cart and analyze the cart’s speed, they discover that the greater the imbalance, the greater the change in cart speed.
8. Force, Mass, and Acceleration Investigation Students interact in a teacherled demonstration using a motion sensor to determine that acceleration is the change in an object’s speed over a period of time. Students further investigate the relationship between force and other quantities, using the SI units for force and acceleration. Students find the equation that relates force, mass, and acceleration by analyzing data that are provided. They graph the relationship between these quantities and are introduced to Newton’s second law.
9. Newton’s Laws of Motion Reading Students complete a reading about forces and are introduced to two of Newton’s laws of motion. The reading is supported by a literacy strategy designed to address coming misconceptions about force and motion. Students apply their understanding of Newton’s first two laws to automobile and driver safety features.
10. Interacting Objects Investigation Students conduct a series of investigations to explore the forces involved when objects interact. From these investigations, students begin to notice that interacting objects apply forces to each other. Students engage in a class discussion to make sense of their observations and draw conclusions about the forces involved when objects interact. Students begin to build understanding that the forces applied by interacting objects are equal in size and opposite in direction, which is Newton’s third law of motion.
11. Newton’s Third Law Modeling In this activity, students complete a short reading about Newton’s third law. After an introduction to the crosscutting concept of systems and system models, students create a system model that illustrates Newton’s third law. Students share their system models with the class and discuss the similarities and differences between their classmates’ system models and their system models. Students reflect on the use of system models in science in class discussion.
12. Collisions and Changes in Motion Problem Solving Students use a system model to investigate collisions between objects of the same mass and objects of different masses. Students use their conclusions from this investigation as well as their understating of Newton’s third law to address the issue of car and driver safety in the event of a collision.
13. Braking Distance Laboratory In this activity, students investigate the effect of speed and mass on braking distance. To begin, students use a model cart and track system conduct an investigation to determine the effect of speed on braking distance. Then, students plan and carry out their own investigation to determine the effect of mass on braking distance. Using their data as evidence, students determine that higher speeds and larger masses result in a larger braking distance. Students relate these findings to the work of engineers.
14. Coming to a Stop Problem Solving Students learn that the distance a car takes to stop is a result of two separate factors – the distance traveled during the driver’s reaction time and the distance traveled once the brakes have been engaged, both of which increase with increased speed. They investigate the actual stopping distance of cars by calculating and graphing data for different speeds, road conditions, and states of driver alertness (assuming the mass of the car is fixed in these calculations). Students consider how technology could be used in the design of vehicles to ensure that an alert driver is operating the vehicle.
15. Designing a Car and Driver Safety System Design In this culminating Activity, students design various devices that make up a car and driver safety system that alerts the driver to changes in the various factors that will affect their ability to come to a stop. First, students review scientific concepts that relate to the problem, then brainstorm ideas about possible solutions. Students create graphical models of their designs for the devices, then seek feedback from a partner to inform revisions to their designs. Students work with their groups of four to plan a presentation to share their designs for all devices in the car and driver safety system with another group. Using a systematic process, students evaluate each other’s designs.

Lab-Aids® provides several useful tools to guide you and your students through the Force and Motion unit:

Force and Motion | NGSS

Student Book

The Student Book guides students in exploring a socio-science issue and connected phemonena through a series of varied activity types. Activity types use one of twelve different instructional strategies to apply Science and Engineering Practices to specific Disciplinary Core Ideas and Cross Cutting Concepts.

SEPUP's integrated literacy strategies help students process new science content, develop their analytical skills, make connections between related concepts, and express their knowledge orally and in writing. The built-in assessment system helps teachers identify students' strengths and weaknesses from the beginning of the unit. This allows them to adjust activities when needed so that all students get the best chance to build their knowledge and appreciation of science. At the back of the Student Book there is an Appendix containing additional resources for students, such as science skills, literacy strategies, and media literacy among others.

Force and Motion | NGSS

Lab-Aids® Science Lab Notebook

A science notebook not only models the way scientists work, but it helps to develop and reinforce students’ science learning and literacy skills.

The Lab-Aids Science Lab Notebook is designed to support best practice note-booking strategies. It includes three-hole punched pages in a two-column design for Cornell-style notes. GraphAnywhere pages allow students to both write and easily create data-tables and graphs anywhere on the page. The unique “Lab-Log” column serves as a blank canvas for drawings, connections, and self-reflective notes. 160 pages total.

Force and Motion | NGSS

Complete Equipment Package

Lab-Aids programs include high-quality equipment for each activity. This includes innovative lab-ware to be used throughout the year, specific solutions and materials for unique labs, as well as items needed for card sorts, modeling, role-plays, and projects.

Materials for up to 5 classes of 32 students, mobile storage cart, Online Portal for one teacher includes online subscription to Teacher Edition and Resources, Student Book in English/Spanish (E/S), student sheets (E/S), visual aids (E/S), PowerPoints, online assessment system, LABsent, and supplemental resources

Teacher's Edition and Resources

The SEPUP Teacher Edition (TE) guides you through each activity in the Student Book and helps you see the development of concepts within the big picture of the unit. It helps you set up the equipment from the kit, organize the classroom, conduct activities, and manage practical details, all of which enhance students’ learning environment.

The Teacher Edition text is broken down into several sections, such as Activity Overview, NGSS Connections and Correlations, Materials and Advanced Prep, Teaching Summary, and Background information to name a few. The Teacher Edition is packaged as a color-printed, loose-leaf binder which allows you to personalize it with highlighting, annotations, rearrangements, and insertions. It provides full support for teaching the program. Additional support resources can also found in the Teacher Resource book.

The Teacher Resource (TR) provides background and suggestions to increase the overall effectiveness of implementing the program across all levels of learners. Some sections include: SEPUP’s Approach to Teaching and Learning, Differentiation Strategies for Diverse Learners, Literacy Strategies for Supporting Reading Comprehension and for Enhancing Students’ Writing, and comprehensive instruction on the SEPUP Assessment System. There is also a section containing unit specific resources, such as overviews, unit storyline and phenomena table, NGSS correlations, assessment blueprints, and item banks.

Online Portal for Students

Access to Student online portal for 1 year, which includes: the digital Student Book (Spanish coming soon), additional resources, and LABsent sheets and videos for absent students. Ability to highlight, bookmark and make notes in the Student Book, complete homework and assessments, and communicate with the teacher. Also available as multi-year subscriptions.

Online Portal for Teachers

Access to Teacher online portal for 7 years, which includes: online subscription to the Teacher Edition and Resources, Student Book (Spanish coming soon), LABsent sheets & videos for absent students, Editable PowerPoints for each lesson, and integrated online assessment system. Ability to highlight, bookmark, and make notes in personal Student and Teacher books, create and assign homework and assessments, and communicate with students. Available as multi-year subscriptions. Single Sign-On (SSO) available.