NGSS Gravity & Mass 5E MS-PS2-4 and MS-PS2-2 Lab Activity Google Ready


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If you are teaching the NGSS standards for Gravity and the motion of objects and planets MS-PS2-4 and MS-PS2-2, this hands-on 5E resource will be great for you! There is the use of phenomena, patterns, systems and system models, carrying out an investigation, modeling, analyzing and interpreting data. And the students love it!

Engage: I first show the YouTube video “Brian Cox visits the world’s biggest vacuum chamber – Human Universe” as the phenomena. Students observe feathers and a bowling ball falling at the same rate as the attention grabber!

Students then fill in the chart of what they observed and what they wonder. Based on what they observed they draw a model (SEP #2) of what they think happened. In NGSS, a model is a simplified representation of a system that can explain and help make predictions regarding phenomena. I encourage the students to make models that are mental representations of what can’t be seen by just observations. Most of them say air resistance was a factor and that’s ok! The only force acting on the feathers and bowling ball is gravity because it’s within a closed system.

Explain: Students explain why the feather and bowling ball fell at the same rate and discover that everything falls towards earth regardless of weight at the same rate (9.8m/s/s) if air resistance isn’t present.

Explore: Students carry out an investigation by dropping 5 different objects and calculate their speed. I use easy to find objects (Marble, piece of wood, bag of beans, plastic ball and a foam bowl). They all fall at about the same speed except the foam bowl. Students collect and analyze the data for the lab.

Evaluate: Students analyze and interpret data.

Extend: Students graph the surface gravity of the different planets in our solar system, learning that mass affects the amount of gravity there is on each planet.

NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas:

-Gravitational forces are always attractive. There is a gravitational force between any two masses, but it is very small except when one or both of the objects have large mass—e.g., Earth and the sun. (MS-PS2-4)

-The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (MS-PS2-2)

-All positions of objects and the directions of forces and motions must be described in an arbitrarily chosen reference frame and arbitrarily chosen units of size. In order to share information with other people, these choices must also be shared. (MS-PS2-2)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices:

-Modeling -Planning and carrying out an investigation -Analyzing and interpreting data -Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking -Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information

NGSS Cross Cutting Practices:


-Cause and Effect

-Systems and System Models

These forces lessons from my store are a great scaffold for this resource:

MS-PS2-1 & MS-PS2-2: STEM 5E NGSS Balloon Cars Lab Engineering

NGSS MS-PS2-2: STEM 5E Paper Airplane Competition Forces Interactions

MS-PS2-2: 5E NGSS Collision Lab Motion Forces Close Reading & Notes CER Article

MS-PS2-2: STEM Roller Coaster Lab & Card Sort Engineering Design Process

MS-PS2-1: STEM Bottle Rockets PowerPoint Graphic Organizer Close Reading & Notes

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