Physical Science Unit 3: Forces and Energy
Semester Essential Question: What is the best way to travel from place to place?

Course Goals:

  • To develop your understanding of the nature of science as it pertains to the physical world.
  • To discover patterns in the natural world and use them to
  • To experience the engineering design process and demonstrate its interrelationship with science.

Course Essential Questions

  • How can I make use of patterns to better understand the natural world?
  • How can I better use technology in my learning and become a better digital citizen?
  • How can I think more divergently, create, and innovate?
  • How can I use my experience in science to learn to think and communicate clearly, logically, and critically in preparation for college and a career?
  • How can I best assess my own learning and progress?

Unit Essential Questions

  1. What causes an object to move?
  2. How can different types of energy be used in transportation?


  1. Models (physical, mathematical, and mental) help us describe and explain the natural world.
  2. Acceleration is a change in velocity or direction.
  3. Force is an acceleration acting on a mass.
  4. Energy is a result of a force moving through a distance.
  5. Energy is interconverted from one form to another, eg;, PE to KE.
  6. There are many different types of energy.

Prior Knowledge and Skills

  1. Measure and record time, distance, mass.
  2. Describe motion in terms of position, elapsed time, velocity, and acceleration.
  3. Create and interpret graphs of elapsed time vs. position
  4. Distinguish between constant and variable motion on a graph.
  5. Explain the relationship between speed, velocity, and acceleration.

Learning Targets: Forces

Students will be able to....

  1. Define the following terms and use them correctly in our work:
    • mass
    • weight
    • inertia
    • force
    • balanced force
    • unbalanced force
    • net force
    • force diagram
    • friction
    • gravity
  2. Explain force as a push or pull.
  3. Describe and distinguish between balanced and unbalanced forces in words and using force diagrams.
  4. Explain the effects of force on an object's motion.
  5. Describe and identify examples of balanced and unbalanced forces.
  6. Using the mathematical relationship F = ma, explain the impact of increasing/decreasing mass/acceleration on F.
  7. Explain motion as described by inertia and applied forces.

Learning Targets: Energy

Students will be able to....

  1. Define energy and explain the relationship between potential and kinetic energy.
  2. Given appropriate measurements, calculate a value for energy and explain its meaning.
  3. Define kinetic energy as energy of motion and use a formula to calculate KE.
  4. Explain the impact of changing the velocity or mass on its KE.
  5. Define PE as energy of position.
  6. Explain the relationship between the height of an object and its gravitational potential energy and use a formula to calculate gravitational potential energy.
  7. Use a pendulum, modified Atwood's machine, or roller coaster as an example to demonstrate the conservation of energy.
  8. Explain the relationship between energy and work.




Important ideas and misconceptions

  • Mass and weight are related but are not the same. Mass is the amount of matter (or atoms) in an object. Weight is the effect of gravitational attraction on that object's mass. Mass is the same on Earth or the moon. Weight is not the same due to differing gravitational attraction on the object on the Earth vs. on the moon.
  • Force is not required to keep an object in motion. Objects stay at motion or at rest due to their inertia, or the resistance of objects to a change in their motion.
  • Velocity is not a force. Velocity is a change in position over time. The change in position may be caused by a force, but velocity itself is not a force.
  • Inertia is not a force that keeps objects in motion (see above).
  • Free body diagrams show if velocity is changing, but do not show the magnitude or direction of the change in velocity.
  • Potential energy is the energy an object has because of its position. It is not stored energy.
  • Energy is not lost. It is transformed from one type to another, or is transferred to another object (or the surroundings.)

Daily Learning Activities

Day 21


1) Introduction to Forces and Motion: balanced, unbalanced, and net forces

  • Forces and Motion PhET and Guide (the HTML5 version works on chromebooks and iDevices)
  • Simple force diagrams (Applied, normal, friction, and gravitational force)
  • Terms (learning targe 1t, above): Begin to write 3-5 word working definitions and examples, while you have a device handy.

Day 22


Force Quiz 1

Graph matching charades:

  • given 2 position vs. time graphs and 2 velocity vs. time graphs, practice re-creating graphs until all group members can do them.
  • Sketch the graphs and make a motion map for each graph (whiteboards first, then each student draws.)
  • Charades

Day 23


2) Forces - Paul Anderson, of Bozeman Science

  • 7 minute video from Bozeman Science and handout page 1 handout page 2
    • Watch once all the way through, then again, stopping to discuss and make notes on the handout.
    • Review of force diagrams
    • Review terms; make sketches in your notes

Day 24


3) Modified Atwood machine lab, as demo, (from modeling curriculum)
  • The relationship between force and acceleration
  • The relationship between mass and acceleration (given constant force)
  • Practice force problem-solving
  • Materials: Vernier pulleys and photogate, or motion sensor
Thanksgiving break

Day 25



4) Review of forces (begin graphic organizer pdf and in Word) as class discussion
  • Problems, summary of forces, force diagrams, and review. Possible problems:
  • Notebook update: sort and file. Put all papers in the logical divider, in chronological order with first day at the front and most recent at the back.

Day 26



5) Assessment: Forces and Newton's Laws Quiz 2

Kinetic energy in the modified Atwood's machine. What is happening to the book?

Day 27



6) Define PE as energy of position. Calculate PE = mgh

  • Energy problem-solving: gravitational potential energy calculations
  • Calculations of each, and using the relationship KE - PE to compare the energies of an object based on its position.
  • Claim - evidence - reasoning using our analysis of diagrams (on handouts)
    • Writing claim-evidence-response justification for our diagram analysis

Day 28



7) Conservation of Energy

  • Energy of a Pendulum as demo of conservation of energy. Observe the pendulum and discuss conversion of PE to KE and back to PE as pendulum
    • Writing prompt to do in class

Day 29



8) Work and Energy

  • Introduce the relationship of force and energy with anothor observation of the modified Atwood machine.
  • How is energy related to work?
    • Work done by a falling object: the impact of marble mass and height lab
    • What did we learn from these data and how can we best represent our learning?

Day 30



9) Types of Energy card sort - comparing types of energy

  • Energy definitions
  • Conservation of energy - transfers and transformations
  • Card sort - gallery walk
  • Expert groups and jigsaw
  • Fill in chart and write explanations

Day 31



10) Energy: (complete the graphic organizer we started on 11/30)

  • Reaction time activity: How far does your car travel while you are texting LOL?
  • Claim, evidence, reasoning

Day 32



Energy Performance Assessment

Skateboard on PhET: PE and KE (if time)

Discussion: If you were an engineer for the state of Oregon and were designing a highway ramp, what would you need to consider?

Next Generation Science Standards:

HS PS2-1 Analyze data to support the claim th at Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration.

PS3.A.1 Energy is a quantitative property of a system that depends on the motion and interactions of matter and radiation within that system. That there is a single quantity called energy is due to the fact that a system's total energy is conserved, even as, within the system, energy is continually transferred from one object to another and between its various possible forms.

PS3.B.2 Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transported from one place to another and transferred between systems.

Teacher Force Files

Teacher Energy Files

Back to Chemistry page