Unit Details

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Forces: Contact and Non-Contact

Middle School - Physical Science - NGSS

Forces: Contact and Non-Contact focuses on helping students understand ideas related to why some objects will keep moving, why objects fall to the ground, and why some materials are attracted to each other while others are not. Students answer the question “How can one describe physical interactions between objects and within systems of objects?”

By the end of middle school, students will be able to apply Newton’s third law of motion to relate forces to explain the motion of objects. Students also apply ideas about gravitational, electrical, and magnetic forces to explain a variety of phenomena including beginning ideas about why some materials attract each other while others repel. In particular, students will develop understanding that gravitational interactions are always attractive, but electrical and magnetic forces can be both attractive and negative. Students also develop ideas that objects can exert forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact, through fields.

Anchor Phenomenon: While playing in a Bubble Soccer game there are many collisions between players. When other players collide with Charlene, she gets knocked off her feet, and sent flying off the field.

Driving Question: What is causing Charlene to get sent off her feet and sent in a different direction after she collides with other soccer players?

Anchor Phenomenon: Floating pencil device

Driving Question: What forces are causing the pencil to be suspended above the pencil holder?

Engineering Design Challenge: Students apply an engineering practice and concept to solve a problem caused when objects collide.

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