Discovery Science Lessons – Force and motion for primary grades

Discovery lessons allow the students to figure the concept out.  This lesson requires a one time preparation and then you have a wonderful lesson your students will not soon forget.  This lesson was presented in my science methods class.  Jennifer taught this lesson in a first grade class and she was impressed with creative designs her first grade students came up with.

Engage the students by holding up a ball and asking them how can I move this object?  Most students will respond by stating you can kick it or throw it.  You can demonstrate those ways but then roll it and drop it too.

Next allow the students to explore how a ball moves by giving them some equipment and having them discovery how many ways they can move the ball.  Here is a list of sample materials you can give your students:

  1. gumball
  2. a paper towel roll cut into 2
  3. 2 small sturdy pieces of cardboard
  4. 2 inches of pipe cleaner
  5. 1 unused straw
  6. 1 unused coffee stirrer
  7. small ball of play dough or clay
  8. small Lego or block
  9. all in a plastic sandwich bag

Hand the supplies to the students and ask them see how many of the materials they can use to make the gum ball move.  Have your students work in pairs or threes but not alone.  There will be many inventive designs created by your students.  Some will need the challenge of using all the materials in the bag to make the gum ball move.  (Some what like mouse trap game).  Jennifer had one student create a launcher with the help of their pencil.

At this point have the students stop creating for a moment and write on the board or the overhead some of the ideas you have seen around the room.  Ask the students if they touched the gum ball directly or did something else move the gum ball or exert the force.  This is a good way to introduce vocabulary to primary aged students.

If your students have a science journal have them draw or record in writing what they have found.  They should record the many ways they discovered to move the gum ball.  Hopefully they will have discovered wind by using the straw or even creating a boat with the small Lego and clay.  You will be amazed how many creative ways your students will discover to move a gum ball.

A way to extend this activity is to introduce amount of force.  Ask the students how they can make the ball go further?  Ask them to explore and test their ideas.

I think you will find this lesson very engaging for your primary aged students.  Try it and let me know how it turns out and what ways you changed it for your class.

Dr. McDonald

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7 Comments on “Discovery Science Lessons – Force and motion for primary grades”

  1. Christie Wylie Says:

    Dr. McDonald,

    I loved this lesson. Our district has just adopted a new science curriculum and we have never taught force and motion before at the second grade level. I loved the open-ended activity and would love to try it in our classroom. Just wanted to know if this was open for public use.

  2. judy mcdonald Says:

    Christie –
    I am sorry it has taken me so long to respond but yes please use them and pass them on to others in your school district.

    Dr. McDonald

  3. Watcharin Jaroencom Says:

    I want to this lesson for my classroom.

  4. Judy Says:

    Please use this lesson. I only ask that you send a comment telling us what worked and what you changed to meet the needs of your class.

    Enjoy and I hope your students enjoy too.

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  7. A.L. Says:

    My first and second graders thoroughly enjoyed this. I added a lid, plastic spoon, rubber bands, about 8″ of masking tape, 10 craft sticks, 12″ of string and a binder clip. I was really impressed with the variety of contraptions they came up with.

    Thanks for the great idea!!