Science "Faction" Lesson - Speed, Velocity and Acceleration

Science "Faction" Lesson - Speed, Velocity and Acceleration
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A “faction” is a fictional story that incorporates “facts” from a lesson in a way that demonstrates the student's understanding of key concepts. For example, a student who is learning about the Armenian Genocide could write a fictional story from the perspective of an individual who lived at that time, incorporating information from the historical record into their story. Factions are engaging and challenging activities that provide students with a high degree of choice in how to complete the assignment. They can be very effective assessments of students' understandings and misunderstandings.

Unit: Motion and Forces

This assignment was written for 9th Grade physical science students. It reviewed foundational content related to motion and forces to prepare them for HS-PS2-1 and HS-PS2-3

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

HS-PS2-3. Apply scientific and engineering ideas to design, evaluate, and refine a device that minimizes the force on a macroscopic object during a collision

Objective: Students will be able to understand the subtle differences between speed, velocity and acceleration, and use values to calculate these properties. The six values that would be required to calculate speed, velocity and acceleration of moving object(s): distance, displacement, time(1), initial velocity, final velocity, and time(2). There are subtle differences between these concepts, and it is easiest to understand these distinctions when applied to actual scenarios.


The first part of the assignment can be introduced and completed as a whole group in approximately 40-45 minutes. However, students will likely need several days to complete this assignment on their own time. They also benefited from some unstructured time to discuss ideas with their classmates. I created this assignment to engage the students in the final week before Spring Break and determine how well they had grasped the vocabulary and calculations that we had practiced in the week or so prior. They were expected to work on it during our block period and any free time they had the week before break, and were given the entire week of Spring Break to type and submit their stories on Google Classroom. This assignment can also be readily adapted to include peer-editing tasks if that fits into your schedule.


The first part of the assignment is a teacher-led reading activity that requires students to follow along with "Tansy's Story" and underline values that relate to her speed, velocity and acceleration. NOTE: The story doesn't just SAY what her speed is, but it gives her distance and time traveled, which can then be used to determine her speed (students will make these calculations on Page 2).

Next, students list the values they found in the story and classify them as distance, time, displacement, intial velocity final velocity, or time. (See the answer key on Page 7 for the correct classifications). This should be completed or reviewed as a whole group, and should not take longer than 4-5 minutes.

On Page 2, there is a table that guides students through the calculations they need to complete to determine Tansy's actual speed, velocity and acceleration. Students will take the values they underlined and use the table as a guide to make their calculations. I recommend guiding the students through this process, or giving them a short period of time to work on it then going over the answers as a whole group. This is intended to be a review activity, but it can also be used as an introduction to these calculations depending on your instructional needs.

After analyzing Tansy's story, students will need to get started working on a story of their own! They will be required to imagine a scenario that involves motion, then write a fictional story that relates to speed, velocity and acceleration. "Your Story Outline" is a handout on Page 3 of the lesson that helps students organize this information before writing their stories.

The attached document also includes a page for the students to complete their own calculations of speed/velocity/acceleration AFTER they write the story. This can also be adapted into a partner activity, where the student analyzes a partner's story instead of their own.

STORY PROMPTS: Athlete running around a track, characters in Fortnite or PUBG, football or soccer plays, police chase / bank robbery, Skyrim dragon attack, being chased through the woods, skateboarding or sledding, etc. I was surprised to see the students engaged pretty quickly and were being quite creative with their story settings.
Total Pages
8 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
50 minutes
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