Ways Things Move

Lesson Plan

Grade Level:

Grades 9-10

State Standards:

1. Motion and Forces: Central Concept: Newton's laws of motion and gravitation describe and predict the motion of most objects.

1.1 Compare and contrast vector quantities (e.g., displacement, velocity, acceleration force, linear momentum) and scalar quantities (e.g., distance, speed, energy, mass, work).

1.2 Distinguish between displacement, distance, velocity, speed, and acceleration. Solve problems involving displacement, distance, velocity, speed, and constant acceleration.
1.3 Create and interpret graphs of 1-dimensional motion, such as position vs. time, distance vs. time, speed vs. time, velocity vs. time, and acceleration vs. time where acceleration is constant.

1.4 Interpret and apply Newton's three laws of motion.

Essential Question:

Why do some objects accelerate?

Lesson Question:


We all know that cars have an accelerator, maybe you call it the gas pedal. When you press on the accelerator, the car moves, when you press on the brake pedal it slows down and maybe stops. Many of you are preparing to earn your driver's license, but have you ever thought about WHY the car moves when you press the accelerator or why it slows down when you depress the brake? You've experienced acceleration on your bike, in a boat and on a roller coaster. You know what it feels like but do you know why it happens? In this lesson you'll learn why acceleration happens and how to express acceleration in words, in a formula and in graphic form.


You will be working with your classmates to brainstorming, watch videos, make predictions and discuss ideas about how objects move. After you learn about the relationships between velocity, acceleration, mass, and force. You will create an interactive poster using Glogster, and present it to the class.

Lesson Experiences:

Part I- Elicit and Engage

Watch the following video of acceleration inside the International Space Station. discuss the following questions with your group: Why does the camera move? What causes it to accelerate? Why does the astronaut move? Why were they not moving before the reboost?

Demonstration of Acceleration Inside the International Space Station During a Reboost


Next watch these balloon boats... balloon boats video

What causes them to move? Discuss with your group.

R/C Boat Balloon Poppers

Ryan T


Part II- Explore

Investigate force and acceleration using plastic cars and flexible rulers. You will continuously push the cart across a table or the floor.

Hold one end of the ruler against the table .Push on the other end of the ruler with your finger. Notice that you bend the ruler, a small force produces a small bend while a larger force causes a bigger bend.

Use the ruler to push the cart across the table or floor using a small bend in the ruler. Apply the force in a continuous way, keep the car moving smoothly and keep the bend in the ruler constant. If the car moves in spurts, start again and keep trying until it moves smoothly. Describe the motion of the cart.

This time push the cart continuously with a bigger bend, a larger force.

Describe the motion of the car.

How was the motion of the car similar to when pushes with a small bend compared to when pushed with a larger bend?

How was the motion of the car different when pushed with a small bend compared to the larger bend?

Write a statement that describes the relationship between the force applied to the cart and the acceleration of the cart.

Now, knowing that continuous force causes acceleration, try this virtual car simulation and see if you can get the car to accelerate. How will you know? Watch the graph as you change the car's speed and/or direction.

With your group brainstorm what you know about velocity, speed, acceleration, graphs, time, distance, and position. Create a concept map showing possible relationships between these ideas. You must send your map in electronic form to me. You may use the method of your choice google docs, an online tool like bubbl, text2mindmap or you can use the sticky notes provided, moving them around as needed, but take a photo email it to me.

Predict what the graph patterns for the following situations will be: increasing velocity, decreasing velocity, constant velocity, positive acceleration, negative acceleration, and constant acceleration and give examples for when these situations might occur.

Individually, investigate the relationship between time, distance, position, velocity and acceleration using the "Moving Man" simulation

Click to Run

Meet with group to verify or revise your graph predictions

Part III- Explain

Watch this video to see Mr. Andersen's explain the review the definitions and formula for velocity and acceleration. He also shows the relationship between them using Usain Bolt's Olympic record run. He'll walk you through basic problems too. You may want to take notes during the video.

Speed, Velocity, and Acceleration by bozemanbiology

Using the web tool quizlet, create flash cards for the following terms: velocity, acceleration, force, speed, distance, graph, positive acceleration and negative acceleration.

Part IV: Elaborate

Individually, work through questions 1-37 at __ drawing a graph for each situation described. You can check your there by clicking the "show answer" link. (Continue these at home if you don't finish in class)

Part V: Evaluate

Create an inactive poster ( Glogster ) or Prezi that answers the guiding questions, "What causes objects to accelerate?". Present your product and ideas to the class. Your presentation must include the following:

  1. student friendly definitions of acceleration, velocity, force, and motion
  2. a real world example of an object accelerating; include a video or pictures of the object in motion
  3. a problem which demonstrates the situation shown using a formula or formulae
  4. a velocity time graph and an acceleration time graph for the object in motion


You have explored common ways objects move and have investigated the relationships between force, velocity and acceleration. You've identified and shared examples of acceleration in situations we encounter all the time. You can draw and identify distance time graphs, velocity/time graphs and acceleration time graphs. Do you feel confident in your understanding of acceleration? You should. How about looking at how objects accelerate around curves and corners like a car around a race track? Why do we slide across the leather seat in a fancy car while taking a curve? Centripetal acceleration is the name for this, you might try investigating this next!


-student group concept maps (formative)
-student graphs (formative)
-student quizlet flash cards (formative)
-Glogster poster or Prezi presentation (summative)

Assessment Rubric

You will be able to....





define vocabulary

Accurately defines terms in student friendly language and include an example

Accurately defines terms in student friendly language

Defines all terms, not necessarily in student friendly language; all may not be accurate

Not all terms are defined; definitions are not accurate; definitions are not student friendly

identify a acceleration happening around them

Includes a very clear/obvious example of an object accelerating in video or photo

Includes an example of an object accelerating in video or photo

Includes a video or photo of an object in motion

Includes a video or photo unrelated to acceleration

draw and interpret graphs of moving objects

Accurately represents and explains multiple velocity/time graph and acceleration time graphs

Accurately represents and explains one velocity/time graph and one acceleration time graphs

Represents and explains a velocity/time graph or acceleration time graph

Represents or explains a velocity/time graph or acceleration time graph;
does not correctly represent or explain the graph(s) included

communicate effectively

speaks at a reasonable volume, with good speed; make eye contact with audience; does not read off poster or presentation; few "umm's"; sounds rehearsed

speaks at a reasonable volume, with good speed; may not make eye contact with audience; does not read off poster or presentation; some "umm's"; sounds rehearsed

may speak too quickly or too softly; may not make eye contact with audience; may read off poster or presentation; may stammer; little evidence of rehearsal

speak too quickly or too softly; and/or does not make eye contact with audience; and/or reads off poster or presentation; little evidence of rehearsal



Image Credits:

DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY, Fla. -- The Air Force Ford-sponsored Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford Taurus, driven by Ricky Rudd, is shown here during a practice run Feb 11. He is preparing for the Daytona 500 race, which will be held here Feb. 15, 2004 (U.S. Air Force photo by Larry McTighe, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

NASCAR drivers Jason Leffler #11 and Bobby Hamilton, Jr. #32 before the start of the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Las Vegas. Bobby Hamilton, Jr. is the short man at the front of the #32 car, March 15 2005 (U.S. Air Force photo, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).