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Force and Motion in K/1st and 3rd Grade Science

Science students in K/1st Grade are just being introduced to force and motion, while 3rd Graders are revisiting these topics and exploring them in depth with topics such as magnetism, gravity and simple machines. This week, these students engaged in experiments designed to provide them with greater insight into these concepts – K/1st Graders kicked off their Pushes and Pulls unit with a ramp investigation, while 3rd Graders began their study of simple machines with an examination of the lever. 

K/1st Grade students were given a toy car, a wooden plank and three blocks and were asked the question: How can you make the car move using these materials? Students worked in small groups to construct ramp systems using the board and blocks, beginning with a low ramp supported by only one block. After recording the distance the car traveled when sent down this ramp, students added another block and repeated the car test. As they continued to add blocks to their system, students discovered that the steeper the ramp is, the farther the car travels.

In 3rd Grade classes, students will be learning about the six types of simple machines as part of their Forces and Interactions unit. This week, they investigated the lever, analyzing the functions of its four parts (the arm, the fulcrum, the load and the effort) by constructing a lever system in order to lift a small weight. By determining the amount of effort – measured in paperclips – required to lift the load with the fulcrum placed at different positions, students discovered that the closer the fulcrum is to the weight (the load), the less effort is required to lift the load.