Physical Science instructional cases
The following Instructional Cases are in draft form as they re in the process of being edited for alignment to NGSS.
forces and motion (draft)
The lessons in the forces and motion instructional case advance students’ qualitative understanding of how balanced and unbalanced forces affect motion. In addition they address misconceptions regarding balanced forces that often hinder a student’s ability to identify all the forces acting on an object. Students are asked to visit a series of stations to form their understanding of how forces affect motion. Later in the instructional case, students revisit the same stations with a new perspective after learning new content. The lessons culminate with students creating and presenting a set of three stations that demonstrate their understanding of forces and motion.
chemical romance (draft)
Does everything react? Will mixing substances always cause a chemical reaction? What observations might indicate evidence of chemical reactions? These are all questions we expect that students will answer after completing this inquiry based lesson series. Students begin with three teacher prescribed reactions, each of which provides evidence for identifying a chemical reaction (gas formation, change in color or temperature). The focus shifts towards guided inquiry where scaffolds are put in place to assist students in developing their own, more complex investigations with an expanded list of reactants. Finally, students re-explore their original questions and predictions, using their new found skills and collective data to plan and conduct student driven investigations with minimal scaffolding.
graphing motion (draft)
Students make connections and learn to interpret distance vs. time and speed vs. time graphs. They create their own data for these graphs by moving along a straight path, at various speeds, while holding a device that drips water at a near constant rate. Transferring the ‘drip’ marks to adding machine tape allows students to interact with the 2 dimensional lengths of paper representing both the distance and speed traveled between drips. This data is used to generate both distance vs. time and speed vs. time graphs. Students analyze both types of graphs to identify how the motion is graphically represented, differentiate between the two types of graphs, and communicate their findings to the class. These lessons teach students to identify constant speed, no motion, as well as positive and negative acceleration on both types of graphs.
periodic table (draft)
This instructional case comprises of 3-4 days of increasingly complex activities that lead the learner to understand patterns in the periodic table. Using paint chips and monthly calendars, students are introduced to the idea that things can be organized in a pattern based on their properties. Then students are asked to conduct an investigation where they are provided a set of “elements” cards depicting the electron configuration and are asked to determine a method for organizing the cards. Students create a chart and share the rationale for their method. Students predict the structure of the remaining elements in the final row. Afterwards, students receive direct instruction to fill in the “gaps” of their knowledge regarding organization and function of the periodic table. Lastly, in a formative assessment, the students predict the location of missing elements based on their properties.
changes in motion (draft)
In this unit of study, students explored concepts in acceleration. Students conduct prescribed investigations and develop their own inquiry-based investigations. The purpose of these investigations was to learn the meaning of velocity and acceleration. Following a prescribed lab using a 3 meter long ramp and balls, students asked and shared their own generative questions about motion. They then designed their own experiments to answer these questions. Students can choose to change the slope of the ramp, increase or decrease the friction of the ramp, or change the properties of the rolling objects. These investigations provide the students with the necessary tools in determining how an accelerating object’s distance and velocity change over time.
Students construct parachutes to help them observe how balanced and unbalanced forces affect the motion of an object. A common misconception is that objects subjected to balanced forces are at rest or that the object will come to a stop. The unit begins with student teams constructing a standard parachute consisting of a dinner napkin, string, adhesive dots, and a mass. Students average the time of three trials as parachutes are released and fall to the ground. Then students are given an opportunity to alter a characteristic of the parachute (mass, material, string length, etc...) to determine which design will lead to the slowest falling parachute At the conclusion, a class discussion relate the activity to how balanced and unbalanced forces affect the motion using a variety of media.