This is a hands-on and kinesthetic experiment activity connecting motion (calculating for speed, distance, time, acceleration, and graphical representations) to forces (net forces, balanced and unbalanced forces, friction, gravity, and Newton's 3 laws of Motion). In order to conduct this activity, the following materials are necessary: small cars, ramps (or wood planks and textbooks), stopwatches, different friction surfaces, pennies/weights and a means of measuring.
Each section of the lab contains a very short pre-reading with pre-questions and then follows the scientific method into the activity, collecting data, and follow-up analyses. The lab begins with some basic concept pre-questions and refreshing formulas and vocabulary. In part 1, students calculating speed, distance and time, as they change the force of gravity (by raising or lowering the ramp the hot wheel car is traveling down. In part 2, students experiment with different surfaces in order to study how the force of friction affects the speed of an object. In part 3, students experiment with the Newton's Force = Mass x Acceleration by changing the masses of the cars traveling down the ramps. Students break for a page of follow-up synthesis, analyses, and application questions. In part 4, students collect data in order to create their own distance-time graph. The last page includes a blank graph for the teacher to draw a distance-time graph for the students to interpret.
This activity is hands-on, engaging, and gets your students moving! It is also rigorous and aligned to 7th-grade science essential standards. Your students are sure to leave the activity with a better understanding of motion, reference points, calculating speed-distance-time, friction, gravity, and Newton's Laws!