Physics 620I: Force & Motion

Lesson Plan Activities Projects References Teacher Investigations SOLs Covered


Each student will be expected to purchase a reading booklet at the time of registration or at the first class. This booklet will contain material that should be read before the beginning of the second class. For our typical course, there are two full eight-hour days of classes, although other schedules are possible. There must be several days between the two full day classes to allow a project to be completed outside of class.

Between the two classes, each student is required to complete a teacher project. This may require some research and construction. The primary consideration is your understanding of the project, your ingenuity, and your description of how other teachers could also use it. A short typed description (perhaps only 2-3 pages) must be handed in giving resource material, instructions for building and utilizing the item. A short discussion of how this project might be useful in the classroom would be appropriate. Do not put binders of any kind on your report. Use a cover sheet with your name, address, school, grade taught, email address, and staple the report in the upper left-hand corner. Also during the second class you will give a short (5-8 minutes) presentation to the class. Some useful information will be given in this booklet to help with the project, but each student is expected to do further research to improve on the ideas presented here. Do not just copy what is given here. Try to improve it.


Because this is a graduate level class, only passing grades of A and B (with + and - possible) are given. A C grade is failing. It is also possible to audit the class, but ALL the work must be completed, including the project. Grades will be primarily assigned by the local adjunct professor and will depend on class attendance and participation as well as the presentation of the homework project. This presentation includes the oral one before the class as well as the document handed in describing the project. See the discussion above in Assignments. Anyone failing to complete the class will be given a grade of Incomplete, which if not completed within one semester will result in a grade of F.

Reading Booklet:

A reading booklet will be prepared for class members that includes useful information on force and motion as well as possible homework projects and teacher applications. This booklet will be available at the first class.

Instructor Contact:

Contact the local adjunct professor during the first class for her/his address and office hours. Professor Thornton may be contacted as described on the previous page.

Lesson Plan:

First Day of Class

8:30 - 9:15 a.m. Videotape of philosophy and outline of course, and introduction. Introduction to simple machines. (40 minutes)
9:15 10:50 a.m. Hands on experiments. Investigations of simple machines.
10:50 - 11:25 a.m. Videotape lecture. More on simple machines. Friction. (33 min)
11:25 a.m. - 12:00 Hands on experiments. Investigations on friction.
12:00 - 12:30 p.m. Lunch.
12:30 - 1:45 p.m. Videotape lecture. Newton's laws. (72 min)
1:45 3:00 p.m. Hands on experiments. Newton's laws.
3:00 - 3:20 p.m. Videotape lecture. Kinds of motion. (19 min)
3:20 - 4:20 p.m. Hands on experiments. Kinds of motion.
4:20 - 4:30 p.m. Clean up. Do evaluations. Sign up for homework projects.

Second Day of Class

8:30 - 9:00 a.m. Videotape lecture. Motion and energy. (27 min)
9:00 10:05 a.m. Hands on experiments. Motion and energy.
10:05 - 12 noon Present teacher projects.
12:00 - 12:30 p.m. Lunch
12:30 - 1:15 p.m. Videotape lecture. Vertical motion. (45 min)
1:15 - 2:10 p.m. Hands on experiments. Vertical motion. (2 min video)
2:10 - 3:00 p.m. Videotape lecture. Energy and its transformations, power, efficiency, applications. (48 min)
3:00 - 4:20 p.m. Hands on experiments. Position graphs. Finish investigations and teacher activities. Rocket videos if time permits.
4:20 - 4:30 p.m. Fill out evaluations.

Teacher Activities:

We have listed here many activities that teachers can choose to do. These are activities that can be built and performed using the resources supplied to the classes. A group of four teachers should work together to do as many of the activities below as time permits, but there is no expectation that all the activities will be done. There should be as much sharing between groups as possible.

Number Activity
1 The Wheel
2 The Wedge
3 The Screw
4 Rollers
5 Frictional Water
6 F = ma
7 Water Rocketry
8 Balloonery
9 Which Way Should It Move?
10 Coin Flip
11 The Pinwheel
12 Twisters
13 Give It Up . . .
14 The Energy in a Book
15 Falling Pennies

Teacher Projects:

Try to have only one person in a class per project. Reference material is contained in the Teacher Project folder that your instructor has, but we do not have copyright permission to make additional copies. Remember that you are expected to use other reference material, not just the material contained here! Two persons are allowed to do Projects #4 and 5.

Simple Machines

1. Construct an 11-pulley block and tackle. This consists of a system of pulleys to lift a load. You will need to find or make the pulleys. Ref. 6, p. 61.
2. Construct an elevator. Complete with shaft, counterweight and a hand crank to move the load. This will also consist of a system of pulleys. Ref. 6, p. 65.
3. Construct a wooden nutcracker. Use what you have learned about levers to make a nutcracker. (There are no additional handouts).
4. Design a simple and practical apparatus. Use two different simple machines to make a simple apparatus that performs a function (e.g. a pulley that pulls up one end of a lever and raises a load). Use references as a guide only. Ref. 7, p.47-50.
5. Design a "Rube Goldberg" machine. Make a complex, impractical machine that uses at least three different simple machines.


6. Make a Marble Run. Use friction and obstacles to control the fall of a marble. Ref. 1, p. 124.
7. Make an Air Car. Make a small "car" that travels on a bed of air. Ref. 11, p. 158-159.

Newton's Laws

8. Water rocket. Create a rocket out of a 2-liter plastic bottle. The launching apparatus is the more involved portion of this project.
9. Film canister rocket. Use a film canister and some Alka-Seltzer to create a rocket.
10. Soda bottle rocket. Use a soda bottle and a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to create a rocket. Ref. 2, p. 122-123, 130.
11. Two-stage rocket. Build a two-stage rocket using balloons and the format in the given reference. Ref. 12, p. 24.
12. Make a Steam Boat. Use candles and a metal tube to create a steam engine that illustrates Newton's Third Law. Ref. 13, p. 126-127.
13. Hit the Falling Can. Create a set up with a blow gun and a soda pop can that demonstrates Newton's Second Law. Ref. 5, p. 320.
14. Blow Your Own Sail. Use a small electric fan and a roller skate to demonstrate Newton's Third Law. Ref. 5, p. 376.

Kinds of Motion

15. Creepy Crawler. Make a moving toy out of household items. Make at least two or three variations. Ref. 13, p. 121.
16. Dashing Dart. Make a helicopter toy. Do some variations with this project as well (size, variety, number). Ref. 13, p. 121.

Motion and Energy

17. Pendulum Skittles. Make a game using the principles of a pendulum. Add more to the game than just what is described in the reference. Ref. 13, p. 117.
18. Graphing on the computer - pendulum data. Perform the experiment given and then on a spreadsheet, create two different graphs:
Collect a total of 5 points for the mass of the bob (i.e. 10 g, 20 g, 30 g, 40 g, 50 g) using a 75 cm length of string. Collect a total of 5 points for the lengths (i.e. 25 cm, 50 cm, 75 cm, 100 cm, 125 cm) using a 30 g mass. Ref. 3, p. 2-9.
19. Build a Foucault Pendulum. Ref. 2, p. 102-105, 109.


20. Make a Spring Balance. Use various simple materials to make a spring scale. Compare the weights of various objects. Ref. 13, p. 94.
21. The Gravity Machine. Use one of two methods to demonstrate centripetal forces. Ref. 5, p. 381-382.
22. Egg Power. Use eggshells as supports for a tower of books, or anything else you can find (including yourself)! Ref. 8, p.13.


1. Allison, Linda and Katz, David. Gee Wiz! How to Mix Art and Science or The Art of Thinking Scientifically. The Yolla Bolly Press. Covelo, CA. 1983.
2. Cunningham, James and Herr, Norman. Hands-On Physics Activities With Real Life Applications. The Center for Applied Research in Education. West Nyack, NY. 1994.
3. Gartrell, Jack E., Jr. Methods of Motion. The National Science Teachers Association. Washington D.C. 1992.
4. Kardos, Thomas. Physical Science Labs Kit. The Center for Applied Research in Education. West Nyack, NY. 1991.
5. Liem, Tik L. Invitations to Science Inquiry. Science Inquiry Enterprises, Chino Hills, CA. 1992.
6. Macaulay, David. The Way Things Work. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 1988.
7. Mandell, Muriel. Physics Experiments for Children. Dover Publications, Inc. NY. 1968.
8. Ontario Science Center. Scienceworks. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. Reading, MA. 1984.
9. Provenzo, Eugene F. Jr. and Provenzo, Asterie Baker. 47 Easy-to-Do Classic Science Experiments. Dover Publications, Inc, NY. 1989.
10. Tolman, Marvin N. Hands-On Physical Science Activities For Grades K-8. Parker Publishing Company, West Nyack, NY. 1995.
11. VanCleave, Janice. Physics for Every Kid: 101 easy Experiments in Motion, Heat, Light, Machines, and Sound.. John Wiley&Sons, Inc. 1991.
12. Vogt, Gregory. Rockets. NASA. 1992.
13. Walpole, Brenda. 175 Science Experiments to Amuse and Amaze Your Friends. Random House, NY. 1988.
14. Wayne, Tony. Teaching Science Through Model Rocketry. 3 Pigs Publishing, Charlottesville, VA. 1994.

Teacher Investigations:

Investigation F1: Simple Machines
Activity F1.1 Inclined Planes
Activity F1.2 The Lever
Activity F1.3 What is a Screw?
Activity F1.4 The Pulley
Activity F1.5 Compound Machines
Investigation F2: Friction
Activity F2.1 Varying Surfaces
Activity F2.2 Varying Mass
Investigation F3: Newton's Laws of Motion
Activity F3.1 Observing Inertia While Driving a Car
Activity F3.2 Will the Coin Fall into the Glass?
Activity F3.3 Is There a Relation between Mass and Acceleration?
Activity F3.4 Is There a Relation between Acceleration and Force?
Activity F3.5 The Spring Carts
Investigation F4: Kinds of Motion
Activity F4.1 Rockers - They Never Fall Down
Activity F4.2 Different Motions
Activity F4.3 How Far Will it Go?
Investigation F5: Motion and Energy
Activity F5.1 Variables, Motion, and Energy of the Pendulum
Activity F5.2 Hot Rods!
Activity F5.3 Energy Conversion
Investigation F6: Vertical Motion
Activity F6.1 Gravity Pull
Activity F6.2 Video Drop
Activity F6.3 The Hare and the Turtle
Investigation F7: Position Graphs
Activity F7.1 What does a Graph Tell Us?
Activity F7.2 What's the Slope of Motion Graphs?
Activity F7.3 Curved Motion Graphs

SOLs Covered:

Kindergarten K.1
Grade 1 1.1, 1.2
Grade 2 2.1
Grade 3 3.1, 3.2
Grade 4 4.1, 4.2
Grade 5 5.1
Grade 6 6.1, 6.3
Physical Science PS.6, PS.10