Can You Find the Forces?

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As I’ve mentioned in past weeks I’m trying to refocus technology usage in my classroom so that its simple and seamless. I want to move away from the mindset that students can only use technology to produce large projects. At a 1:1 school I feel technology should be used everyday for even the most basic assignments. With this in mind my year-long science class is completing Flickr assignment where they have to identify the forces at work on an object called “Flickr Forces.”  Yesterday we took notes on forces and had we not had an assembly the Flickr Forces project would have been completed during the 2nd half of the period.  Identifying forces at work on an object is always a challenging task for middle school students, but the concept shows up prominently on our state-mandated 8th grade science test.  Last year there was a crazy spring question in some test-prep material I barely understood!  Flickr Forces meets the following California 8th Grade Science Standards.

8.2.a A force has both direction and magnitude.
8.2.b When an object is subject to two or more forces at once, the effect is the cumulative effect of all the forces.
8.2.c When the forces on an object are balanced, the motion of the object does not change.
8.2.d How to identify separately two or more forces acting on a single static object, including gravity, elastic forces due to tension or compression in matter, and friction.

To help make this assignment flow smoothly and not suck up a huge amount of time, I’ve uploaded 5 pictures from Flick onto our course Moodle page.  The pictures all have objects in motion including a race car on a track, a plane in the air, a rubber band being pulled, and a the space shuttle taking off.  Students will choose one picture, bring it into Keynote (PowerPoint will work for your PC folks), and label the forces using arrows and text boxes.  Arrows should be in the proper direction of the force and have correct relative sizes to each other.  Once the assignment is complete they will save their slide as an image and upload that image to the dropbox on our Moodle page.  Yesterday, we talked about the most common forces, such as gravity, static and kinetic friction, and the normal force.  The one tricky area might be helping the kids identify the forces that don’t immediately fit into one of these predefined categories like lift for a plane or thrust from rocket engines.  The image you see posted here is what I modeled for students at the end of the lesson yesterday.  If you’re talking about forces soon try out a project like this and let me know how it works.  Any ideas on how we could make this better?

Joe

Photo: Rolling, Rolling, Rolling by Steffe on Flickr with forces added by me.

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