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How does something start moving?

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How does something start moving?

Is Lesson Plan Physical Science Grade 5

Sensemaking Checklist

What is Sensemaking?

Sensemaking is actively trying to figure out how the world works (science) or how to design solutions to problems (engineering). Students do science and engineering through the science and engineering practices. Engaging in these practices necessitates that students be part of a learning community to be able to share ideas, evaluate competing ideas, give and receive critique, and reach consensus. Whether this community of learners is made up of classmates or family members, students and adults build and refine science and engineering knowledge together.

Lesson Snapshot

Elementary school students, as scientists, investigate balanced and unbalanced forces and patterns in motion to answer the lesson question: How does something start moving? Students use a PhET simulation to identify “rules” about forces and motion. Next, students investigate two systems: (1) a balloon filled with air and (2) a chemical reaction of Alka-Seltzer and water in a small container. Students draw force diagrams of these systems to show how the objects’ motions change when the released gas applies a force on those objects. Finally, students analyze their force diagrams and look for patterns to help understand the launch of the rocket carrying the JSWT.

This lesson plan is lesson three of the Launching the James Webb Space Telescope Unit. The unit was created in collaboration with AIAA and Estes Education.

Click the Download PDF button above for the complete Lesson Plan.


Student Materials

Per Student

Teacher Materials

  • Balloons
  • Balloon pump
  • Clothes pins
  • Fishing line or kite string
  • Straw
  • Tape
  • Measuring tape
  • Alka-Seltzer tablets
  • Small container with a lid (vial or film container size)
  • Water
  • Cleaning supplies, towels
  • Device to record launch in slow motion
Asset 2