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Editor's Note

Editor's Note: Teaching Forces and Motion

The kid-friendly topic of Motion and Stability allows students to make predictions, carry out investigations, and make claims supported by evidence. This topic is always a crowd pleaser in my K–5 classroom, albeit a noisy one at times! With the inclusion of computer technology and supporting age-appropriate literature, the learning experiences can provide essential conceptual foundations for understanding core ideas of interactions of objects through forces and motion, including balanced and unbalanced forces.

Allowing time for children to explore helps them build early understandings of force and motion. Students can take ownership of planning and carrying out their own investigations about motion, and through careful observation of outcomes, students can recognize patterns, evaluate cause-and-effect relationships, and begin to explore stability and change within a system.

My favorite starting point for investigations of forces and interactions is with an anchoring text. This month’s issue describes many choices where concepts can be introduced and vocabulary can be explored through shared-reading and hands-on investigations. Allowing students to build experiences lays the groundwork for the understanding of contact forces and non-contact forces, such as gravity, magnetism, and electricity.

Learning in context and through practice builds stronger connections for deeper understandings of core ideas and content-specific vocabulary. This also allows students to measure, think about variables, predict future motion, and defend their thinking with evidence from their investigations. With multiple opportunities for data collection and measurement, students will be able to have meaningful conversations about outcomes, trends, and outliers in data. Investigations of force and motion pairs exquisitely with data collection and representation.The connection between observed results and the data story serves as a link for students’ initial understandings of graphic depictions through charts and graphs.

Through the use of technology, we can slow down motion so that students can observe frame-by-frame as objects collide or change directions. Being able to manipulate materials on a computer screen provides more opportunities to change variables, repeat trials without time-consuming resetting of elements, and keep track of cause-and-effect relationships through instant replay.

In addition, this month we launch our newest column: Tech Talk, which describes technology and classroom applications for lower and upper elementary students. This month, author Heather Pacheco-Guffrey weeds through the crowded world of technology to share gems that will support and enhance learning for all. In fact, one of the Tech Talk technologies is highlighted in one of our feature articles in this issue, “Ramp It UP!” on page 30.

So, let’s get the marbles rolling and bring on the pushing and pulling in the classroom as we learn about forces and interactions.

We’d love to hear from you about the implementation of some of the lessons and strategies in this month’s issue of Science and Children. Let’s keep the dialogue open as we learn about what works and what doesn’t within the walls of our classrooms.

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