Physical Science

An object's motion is affected by forces and can be described by the object's speed and the direction it is moving.

Benchmark: Simple Machines

Give examples of simple machines and demonstrate how they change the input and output of forces and motion.

Benchmark: Force & Changing Motion

Identify the force that starts something moving or changes its speed or direction of motion.

For example: Friction slows down a moving skateboard.

Benchmark: Relating Force to Motion Changes

Demonstrate that a greater force on an object can produce a greater change in motion.


Standard in Lay Terms 

MN Standard in Lay Terms

Motion is when an object's position is changed.  This change is measured as distance traveled per time.  Change in position of an object cannot happen without applying a force.  The force upon the object can be measured by speed or direction.  The amount of force is determined by the change  in speed, direction an object.

Big Ideas and Essential Understandings 

Big Idea

The motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of  motion, and speed. Motion can be measured and represented on a graph.

An object that is not being subjected to a force will continue to move at a constant speed and in a straight line.

If more than one force acts on an object along a straight line, then the forces will reinforce or cancel one another, depending on their direction and magnitude.

Benchmark Cluster 

MN Standard Benchmarks:  Give examples of simple machines and demonstrate how they change the input and output of forces and motion.  Identify the force that starts something moving or changes its speed or direction of motion. For example: Friction slows down a moving skateboard.  Demonstrate that a greater force on an object can produce a greater change in motion.

The Essentials

To any action there is always an opposite and equal reaction; in other words, the actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal and always opposite in direction.

- Sir Isaac Newton

The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (1687), 3rd edition (1726), trans. I. B. Cohen and Anne Whitman (1999), Axioms, or Laws of Motion.

  • NSES Standards:

The motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed. That motion can be measured and represented on a graph.  An object that is not being subjected to a force will continue to move at a constant speed and in a straight line.   If more than one force acts on an object along a straight line, then the forces will reinforce or cancel one another, depending on their direction and magnitude. Unbalanced forces will cause changes in the speed or direction of an object's motion. (NSES, 1996)

By the end of 5th grade students should know that:

1.    Changes in speed or direction of motion are caused by forces.

2.    How fast things move differs greatly.

Benchmarks of Science Literacy

By the end of the 5th grade, students should know that

Changes in speed or direction of motion are caused by forces. 4F/E1a

The greater the force is, the greater the change in motion will be. The more massive an object is, the less effect a given force will have. 4F/E1bc

How fast things move differs greatly. Some things are so slow that their journey takes a long time; others move too fast for people to even see them. 4F/E2

AAAS Project 2061

Common Core Standards

Language Arts Standards:

5.2.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text. For example, students will read text and need to respond to it either written or verbally.

5.2.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

5.2.4  Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

5.2.7  Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words. Students will use graphs, charts, tables to understand and compare results.

5.2.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and information texts independently and proficiently.

5.6.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

5.6.7 Conduct short as well a more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. For exam[le, studnets could research a topic related to the subject matter.

5.6.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoicing plagiarism.

5.6.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a single setting or a day or two) for a range or tasks, purposes, and audiences. Science notebooks would provide the opportunity to meet this standard.

5.8.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively and orally. During science digital media such as webquests, videos are used to help explain a concept, students also are presented with information orally and through experiments in which quantitative data is used to make a point.

5.8.5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations. when students present information they should utilize tools such as prezi, powerpoint or other visual aids to help the audience connect and understand their information.

Math Standards Create and use rules, tables, spreadsheets and graphs to describe patterns of change and solve problems. Students create tables and graphs when documenting motion of objects. Know and use the definitions of the mean, median and range of a set of data. Know how to use a spreadsheet to find the mean, median and range of a data set. Understand that the mean is a "leveling out" of data. Create and analyze double-bar graphs and line graphs by applying and understanding of whole numbers, fractions and decimals. Know how to create spreadsheet tables and graphs to display data.


Student Misconceptions 

Student Misconceptions about Forces and Motion

A list compiled by the Operation Physics Elementary/middleschool physics education outreach project of the American Institute of Physics. Author/editor is unknown.

1.      The only "natural" motion is for an object to be at rest.

2.      If an object is at rest, no forces are acting on the object.

3.      Only moving objects can exert a force.  If an object is at rest on a table, there are no forces are acting upon it.

4.      Force is a property of an object.  An object has force and when it runs out of force it stops moving.

5.      The motion of an object is always in the direction of the net force applied to the object.

6.      Large objects exert a greater force than small objects.

7.      A force is needed to keep an object moving with a constant speed.

8.      Friction always hinders motion.  Thus, you always want to eliminate friction.


Mr. C. is introducing the concept of motion and force to his students.  He asks if anyone in the class thinks they could lift Mr. C. off the ground.  The students look skeptical and of course Jason, being the largest boy, raises his hand and says that he can do it.  So, Mr. C. asks Jason to come to the front and lift Mr. C.  Jason swaggers up to the front of the class and puts his arms around Mr. C., trying to lift the 200 pound teacher off the floor.  The class gets a big laugh as Mr. C. tries to regain his composure.  Unfortunately for Jason, he is unable to do it.  Fortunately for Mr. C., he has the perfect segue into his lesson.  Mr. C. politely thanks Jason for trying so diligently, and asks the rest of the class what question they could ask that would address the issue of trying to lift Mr. C. off the ground.  Mr. C. gives each cooperative group one minute to come up with a question that they could try to answer.  After one minute or so, Mr. C. asks a reader from each group to share their group's question.  Group 1's question: "How can we make it easier to lift Mr. C."  Group 2: "What tools or devices could we use to help us lift Mr. C. off the ground?"  Group 3: "How come it is so hard to lift Mr. C. off the ground?"  Group 4 asks: "What is preventing us from being able to lift Mr. C. off the ground?"  Mr. C. writes these questions on the board and the students write down the questions in their science notebooks.  Mr. C. asks the groups what question they think would best help solve the problem.  They all agree that each question has some merit but group 2's question "What tools could we use to help lift Mr. C. off the ground?" might get the class the result they want.  Mr. C. asks them to think about group 3's question "What is preventing us from lifting Mr. C. off the ground?" and how that relates to group 2's question.

The students gather in their groups to brainstorm the possible tools that could help them lift Mr. C. off the ground.  The obvious ones come up: use a crane (lots of laughs), an elevator, etc.  Mr. C. then asks them what could they do if they had no access to mechanics and today's technology?  Most of the students are stumped.  So, Mr. C.  introduces a large plank and a block of wood.  "Now, how could you use these simple tools to lift Mr. C.?"  The students come up with the idea of using it as a lever by putting the block of wood under the plank and placing Mr. C. on one end of the plank and another student at the other end.  Mr. C. asks "Where are you going to place the block of wood and who would be the person?"  Groups quickly come up with the idea of placing the block in the center under the plank, and that Jason should be the one to stand on the other end since he is the largest of the students.  Mr. C. then stands on one end of the plank and Jason stands on the other end.  The class is riveted with anticipation that Jason will be able to lift Mr. C.  They soon find out, as Jason stands on his end, that he cannot (another big laugh).  Mr. C. asks the groups to come up with a reason why this did not work and what they could do make it work.  Most groups come back with the idea of moving the block of wood.  Some say closer to Mr. C. and others say further away from the center.  At this time, Mr. C. poses another challenge: instead of Jason lifting Mr. C., Tess (the smallest girl) would have to lift Mr. C.  After a number of trials and moving the block of wood to various places under the plank, Tess is able to lift Mr. C, and she gets a rousing applause.

At this point, Mr. C. introduces the concept of  a lever and its ability to lift a load.  Mr. C. draws a diagram on the board and labels the parts of this simple machine.  He tells the class that the parts of this simple machine are the lever arm (plank), the fulcrum ( the block of wood), the effort (Tess standing on one end), and the motion or lift (Mr. C. off the ground).

Mr. C. then asks the class to go back to the other question that they are to try to answer (from group 3): "What is preventing us from lifting Mr. C. off the ground?"  The students make a list of possibilities in their notebooks and after some discussion, it is determined that gravity plays a part and mass has something to do with it as well.  Mr. C. then introduces that force is need to make the load (Mr. C.) move or lift, and that the greater the force results in a greater motion or lift.  In a following lesson, Mr. C. has them explore how changing the fulcrum can change the amount of force needed to move a load like Mr. C.


Instructional Notes 

Suggested Labs and Activities

FOSS-Delta Education

Levers and Pulleys Module

Investigation 1-Levers, Parts 1-3, pp. 8- 28  (See Benchmark

Students are introduced to levers as devices that help lift weight or overcome resistance. Students investigate the fulcrum, effort, and load of one kind of lever (class-1) and conduct experiments with a spring scale to discover the relationships between the parts of lever systems. They draw and graph their results.

Levers: Raising the Moai on Easter Island video clip Teacher's Domain

In this video segment adapted from NOVA, a team of archaeologists and engineers tests one theory of how the ancient peoples of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) might have transported a massive statue, called a moai, from cliff-top quarry to coastal perch and then raised it to an upright position. Levers are simple machines that can help amplify lifting force.

This could be used to extend lessons on simple machines

FOSS Module -Models and Designs

Investigation 3, Parts 1-3, pp. 8- 23 (See Benchmark &


Students work in pairs to design and build a self-propelled cart. They relate structures to functions as they design, test, and improve their rolling carts.

Investigation 4, Parts 1-2, pp. 6- 15 (See Benchmark &


Students work in pairs to modify their self-propelled carts to perform interesting maneuvers such as turn corers, bob up and down, and wobble from side to side. Students gain experience with design and engineering tasks as they investigate the relationships among go-cart variables.

FOSS & Delta Reading Materials for to support Benchmark

Foss Models & Design Science Stories, pp. 1-17, 21-27

DSCR Simple Machines, pp. 2-9

DSR Work and Machines, pp. 12-19

FOSS & Delta Reading Materials for to support Benchmark

Foss Levers & Pulleys Science Stories, pp. 1-17, 22-27

Foss Models & Design Science Stories, pp. 17-43, 48- 53

DSCR Forces and Motion, pp. 3-9

DSR, Flight and Rocketry, pp. 4-5, 7

FOSS & Delta Reading Materials for to support Benchmark

Foss Models & Design Science Stories, pp. 37-43, 48- 53

DSCR Forces and Motion, pp. 14-23

The Foss Science Stories and Delta Science Content Readers (DSCR) and Delta Science Readers (DSR) indicate use as a supplement to the FOSS program. These are for the student


Benchmark Machine lesson. To explore the parts of a system and develop students' understanding of the interactions between those parts. To engage in troubleshooting and design related to systems.

Simple Machines

Benchmark following link is a good introduction to simple machines, it includes a pre and post test option along with an interactive game-type activity for students. Selected lessons are also presented here as well, specifically for simple machine identification and levers.

EdHeads Simple Machines This would be a great lesson for student to explore the interaction of levers and balance. Students will learn about the function and form of levers. Students will gain a deeper understanding of the function of levers by viewing the mobiles created by sculptor Alexander Calder. They will build a simplified mobile, experiment with balancing levers and discuss finding equilibrium.

Master of Balance and

I Like to Move It, Move It! WebQuest would be a good way to let students work independently and experiment with some activities to engage them with force and motion. I Like to Move It, Move It! WebQuest

The following link will bring you to a lesson that is integrating art and science for vocabulary development/understanding of force and motion vocabulary. The Art of Forces and Motion (this link includes a good video for perspective.) Prior to this activity vocabulary should be introduced.  Students could go on a walking tour to identify "forces of motion" in the natural world and relate them to vocabulary and previous learned concepts relating to force and motion. It would work well to reinforce the vocabulary that is used in this standard.

Benchmark Students work in partnerships or small groups with a machine that is made up of simple machines. They work together to identify and explain to one another why a particular part of the machine is the simple machine they believe it to be. Sketching Gadget Anatomy, The motion of  cart with varying amount of friction is observed. Students push the cart and observe the subsequent motion occurring after the push. Students use a motion detector to detect the motion of  a cart; The trial is repeated with less friction; the post-push motion is again observed. The process is repeated with less and less friction in each consecutive trial. Opportunity to graph and collect data with this experiment. Galileo For a Day Lab

Benchmark Video of Simple Machines, could be a great way to start out a lesson.  Bill Nye the Science Guy with student worksheet to do during the video Simple Machine worksheet

Instructional suggestions/options

This standard is best understood if one (the teacher) really understands Newton's three laws of motion, (students aren't expected to know them) no matter what words one uses to articulate them, then much of the ways things move become clear. It is imperative that the student be led to observe and to analyze the way things actually move. The "Laws" of motion are laws only in the sense that they are rules that describe what actually is happening when an object moves. Isaac Newton, about three hundred and twenty years ago (1687), was able to summarize all the essential knowledge of motion in three fundamental rules: Newton's Laws of Motion.

(Adapted from TEKS-Texas Education Agency-Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills)

Below are links to a few versions of the design process for specific audiences.

Engineering is Elementary

MA Science & Technology/Engr. Curriculum Framework (PDF, pg. MA Science Standard 2.1 Grades 6-8

NASA Grades K-4 or Grades 5-12

Sally Ride Science

Design Squad (pdf)

The Works: A Hands-On Museum (pdf)

The above list of Alternate Versions of the EDP was from: Teach Engineering

A huge collection of best practice techniques that could be used in any classroom setting.

SERC Pedagogies

Some specific best practice techniques to look at would be:
            *Socratic questioning techniques Socratic Questioning

*Gallery walks Gallery Walks

Science Notebooking is a way to teach students how to record data in a clear and precise way.  The students will take ownership of their work and be able to share their data with others.  It also allows an experiment to be retested based on the information that the student recorded. A presentation on how to set up a science notebook; and how to explain the scientific method using a smart notebook.

Instructional Resources 

Additional resources

The following link is a good introduction to simple machines, it includes a pre and post test option along with an interactive game-type activity for students.

EdHeads Simple Machines

BrainPop is a subscription service that also has some "free" videos available for students and teachers to use to explain concepts in all subject areas. Vocabulary activities are included in most videos along with additional information and activities.

A note about BrainPOP

BrainPOP creates animated, curriculum-based content that engages students, supports educators, and bolsters achievement.

To start exploring BrainPOP Jr., BrainPOP, BrainPOP Español, and BrainPOP ESL, register for our Free Trial.

Read the scientifically based research that demonstrates BrainPOP's impact and effectiveness.

If you would like to subscribe, visit the BrainPOP Store or our Funding section.

BrainPop movies that address Benchmark

BrainPOP Wheel and Axle

BrainPOP Pulley

BrainPOP Work

BrainPOP Gears

BrainPop movies that address Benchmark

BrainPOP Newton's Laws of Motion

BrainPOP Levers

BrainPOP Distance, Rate, and Time

BrainPOP Pulley

BrainPOP Bridges

BrainPop movies that address Benchmark

BrainPOP Force

BrainPOP Newton's Laws of Motion

BrainPOP Levers

BrainPOP Pulley

BrainPOP Bridges

Interactive, multimedia site for use by teachers, students and parents. The site includes links, videos, teacher resources including lesson examples and duplication masters along with interactive activities.


Fear of Physics Homework Helper- Fear of Physics

Printed Materials/Textbook Reference

Methods of motion: an introduction to mechanics (Grades 6-10). ISBN# 0-87355-085-4 Gartrell J.E., Initials. (1998). Methods of motion: an introduction. National Science Teachers Association.

Kinematics by Joseph Stiles Beggs ISBN: 0891163557 Beggs J.S., Initials. (1983). Kinematics. Washington: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation.

Related Reading List

Describing Motion with Words

Amusement Park Physics

New Vocabulary 


  • Advantage: A gain in effort or distance or a change of direction resulting from the use of a simple machine.
  • Axis: An imaginary line that passes through an object or system, around which the object or system rotates.
  • Class 1 lever: A lever in which the fulcrum is between the load and the effort.
  • Effort: The force applied to move a load using a simple machine.
  • Fixed pulley: A pulley attached in position above a load to be lifted.
  • Force: A push or a pull.
  • Fulcrum: The point at which a lever arm pivots.
  • Inclined plane: A flat surface set at an angle, used to change the direction of a force.
  • Lever: A beam, free to pivot around a point, used to move a load.
  • Lever arm: A beam, free to pivot around a point.
  • Load: The weight or resistance that is moved using a simple machine.
  • Movable pulley: A pulley attached to a load that is being lifted.
  • Newton: The metric unit used to measure force.
  • Newton's 3rd Law: Equal and opposite reactions. Examples: You push DOWN on floor, floor pushes UP on you; Steam out of bottom of space shuttle pushes DOWN on launch pad, launch pad pushes UP on space shuttle.
  • Pulley: A wheel with a grooved rim in which a rope can run to change the direction of the pull and so lift a load.
  • Resistance: An opposing force tending to prevent motion.
  • Simple machine: Any of the six elementary devices (including levers and pulleys) that provide mechanical or other advantage.
  • Wedge: A double inclined plane that tapers to a point or sharp edge, used to change the direction of force.
Technology Connections 

3 Puck Chuck

Explore the physics of motion by trying to move items of different weight in this interactive game. Determine the role friction plays in movement.

3 Puck Chuck

Dish It Out

Explore the physics of motion and simple machines with this interactive game. Try a pre-made challenge or set up ramps in your own challenge to get the mysterious Dim Sum ball into the take-out container.

Dish it Out

WHOAHler Coaster

Experiment with potential and kinetic energy by creating a roller coaster track that is both exciting and safe in this interactive test course.

WHOAHler Coaster

Scratch interactive programing site to use with any subject matter but easily could be used with science. Use to assess student knowledge of concepts Scratch Programming or Scratch Support

Website with lesson plans for use with Smart boards

Web-based presentation software for students to use to present information or for you to use to get information to students. Prezi

Motion and Force Website with vocabulary, examples good for introduction, exploration  or extension of and Motion and Forces

Interactive Museum of Forces, Motion and Simple Machines-webquest Museum of Forces, Motion and Simple Machines WebQuest

Cross Curricular Connections 

Language Arts

FOSS-Delta Education

Levers and Pulleys

Investigation 4 - Pulleys at Work, Language Extension, p. 28 Science Stories, pp. 1-17, 21-27

This lesson uses the familiar story of the three pigs and the big bad wolf to explore how the wolf could have used simple machines to catch the three pigs. By reading, analyzing, and evaluating the wolf's use of simple machines in The 3 Pigs and the Scientific Wolf by Mary Fetzer, the students will design and justify their own machine to help the wolf catch those pigs! The Three Pigs and the Scientific Wolf

Investigate and Report on Simple Machines DirtMeister's Science Reporting


Assessment of Students

Components of good assessment PALS Assessment

Students: Include questions designed to probe student understanding of concepts, both formative and summative.   Identify taxonomic level of questions.

What advantage can be gained by using a lever  or any simple machine to lift a load?

Explain how you might you move a 5 ton boulder into the back of a pick-up truck using a lever?

Set up performance stations in which students have to set up different situations using levers.

Portfolio assessment that includes work that shows:

something you learned about levers

something you learned about force

something you learned about motion

Assessment Vignette:

Class is studying the motion of objects. One student, describing his idea about motion and forces, points to a book on the desk and says "right now the book is not moving." A second student interrupts, "Oh, yes it is. The book is on the desk, the desk is on the floor, the floor is a part of the building, the building is sitting on the Earth, the Earth is rotating on its axis and revolving around the Sun, and the whole solar system is moving through the Milky Way." The second student sits back with a self-satisfied smile on her face. All discussion ceases.

Ms. M. signals time and poses the following questions to the class. Imagine an insect and a spider on a lily pad floating down a stream. The spider is walking around the edge of lily pad. The insect is sitting in the middle of the pad watching the spider. How would the insect describe its own motion? How would the insect describe the spider's motion? How would a bird sitting on the edge of the stream describe the motion of the insect and the spider? After setting the class to work discussing the questions, the teacher walks around the room listening to the discussions. Ms. M. asks the students to write answers to the questions she posed; she suggests that the students use diagrams as a part of the responses. The school principal had been observing Ms. M. during this class and asked her to explain why she had not followed her original lesson plan. Ms. M. explained that the girl had made a similar statement to the class twice before. Ms. M. realized that the girl was not being disruptive but was making a legitimate point that the other members of the class were not grasping. So Ms. M. decided that continuing with the discussion of motions and forces would not be fruitful until the class had developed a better concept of frame of reference. Her questions were designed to help the students realize that motion is described in terms of some point of reference. The insect in the middle of lily pad would describe its motion and the motion of the spider in terms of its reference frame, the lily pad. In contrast, the bird watching from the edge of the stream would describe the motion of the lily pad and its passengers in terms of its reference frame, namely the ground on which it was standing. Someone on the ground observing the bird would say that the bird was not in motion, but an observer on the moon would have a different answer.

The ability to reason scientifically.

The ability to use science to make personal decisions and to take positions on societal issues.

The ability to communicate effectively about science.

This assessment standard highlights the complexity of the content standards while addressing the importance of collecting data on all aspects of student science achievement. Educational measurement theory and practice have been well developed primarily to measure student knowledge about subject matter; therefore, many educators and policy analysts have more confidence in instruments designed to measure a student's command of information about science than in instruments designed to measure students' understanding of the natural world or their ability to inquire. Many current science achievement tests measure "inert" knowledge-discrete, isolated bits of knowledge-rather than "active" knowledge-knowledge that is rich and well-structured. Assessment processes that include all outcomes for student achievement must probe the extent and organization of a student's knowledge. Rather than checking whether students have memorized certain items of information, assessments need to probe for students' understanding, reasoning, and the utilization of knowledge. Assessment and learning are so closely related that if all the outcomes are not assessed, teachers and students likely will redefine their expectations for learning science only to the outcomes that are assessed.

NAP Assessment Vignette

PALS Assessment Page for motion- PALS Assessment for Motion

Assessment Strategies for Force and Motion- Force and Motion Assessments

PALS Performance Assessment Links for Science

Assessment of Teachers

How might a teacher respond when a students asks "Why do we need to know this?"

There are six simple machines (lever, pulley, inclined plane, wheel and axle, screw and wedge) all simple machines have one thing in common. What is it that makes them simple machines?

Explain how motion and force are related to one another.

Give an example of a situation in which a greater force created a greater change in motion.


Struggling Learners 

Struggling and At-Risk

The suggestions given on the website for Special Education Students would also apply here.

Additional exposure or pre-exposure to activities can be helpful.  Build cooperative learning groups carefully. Students must be grouped with students who will allow them to participate and use their strengths.  Adapted from: Supporting Special Education Students in Science

English Language Learners 

The following link will bring you to a pdf that outlines some great ideas to support your ELL students. Improving Science and Vocabulary Learning of English Language Learners 

FOSS Science Stories for literary challenged or Hearing Impaired

This link provides an audio version of the stories and vocabulary associated with the FOSS Levers & Pulleys unit

FOSS Levers and Pulleys

At this site, click on: "for Parents & Teachers" - "Teacher Resources" - "Audio Stories"

This link provides an audio version of the stories and vocabulary associated with the FOSS Variables unit

See this site.

At this site, click on: "for Parents & Teachers" - "Teacher Resources" - "Audio Stories"

Extending the Learning 

What Should a Science Curriculum for Gifted Students Include?

An emphasis on Learning Concepts:

An emphasis on Higher-Level Thinking.

An emphasis on Inquiry, Especially Problem-Based Learning.

An emphasis on the Use of Technology as a Learning Tool.

An emphasis on Learning the scientific process, using experimental design procedures.

Planning Science Programs for High-Ability Learners

Allow students to take on project ideas and present them to the class, examples can be found on the FOSSweb website.

Minds on Physics. Minds On Physics is more than 1300 carefully-crafted questions designed to improve student conceptions of common physics topics. Minds On Physics is 135 challenging sublevels, each of which address one or two student learning outcomes. Minds On Physics is a collection of 15 modules which are designed to provide students with a learning opportunity, an exercise in thinking, and a chance to reflect and review. This would be appropriate for students who are really interested and are looking for a challenge. Many of the questions are at a very high level.

Minds on Physics


The Multicultural Resource Center has a variety of resources available to support multicultural science instruction. 

St Paul Public Schools Multicultural Science Education Resources

Teaching Science to Native American Students


Special Education 

Teaching Today | How-To Articles | Supporting Special Education Students in Science      3/23/11 8:29 PM

How-To Article

How-To Articles > Science > Supporting Special Education Students in Science Supporting Special Education Students in Science

Learn a variety of techniques to help your special education students overcome challenges to enjoy success in science.

Overcoming Obstacles to Success in the Science Classroom

What specific techniques benefit special education students in the science classroom? Strategies designed to increase classroom success for special education students are based on sound instructional methodology, and thus have potential benefits for all students. When integrating the strategies suggested below, teachers must remember that the term "special education" is applied to students having a wide range of disabilities existing on a continuum from moderate to extreme. Instructors should consider individual needs and learning preferences when implementing strategies.

Dealing with Issues Related to Attention

Split up large chunks of instruction, particularly experimental procedures, into small parts. Have students repeat directions in their own words. Integrate hands-on instruction with traditional methods. Switching to a different instructional modality can re- focus wandering attention.

Use laboratory time for one-on-one instruction. Speaking with a student individually is a powerful tool for focusing attention. Find ways to integrate topics interesting to students. Encourage expression of opinion and discussion. Consider seating arrangements. There is no "right" seat for a student with a given disability. A student with difficulty focusing may experience increased success if seated away from high-traffic areas.

Incorporate body posture changes. Sitting straight up in a chair might not prove the most effective learning posture, particularly for students with Attention Deficit Disorder.

Dealing with Issues Related to Information Processing and Communication

Communicate information in multiple formats. Students may process information more effectively in an oral, visual, or kinesthetic framework. Write lab procedures in large, legible print. The blackboard or other communication medium should not be cluttered with irrelevant information.

Coincide verbal directions with demonstration whenever possible. Procedures such as lighting a burner and using a balance must be demonstrated and practiced for mastery. Clearly label laboratory equipment. Color coding materials may enhance identification. Develop cue cards which outline, in written or pictorial form, major procedural steps. Prominently display cards in sequential order.

Utilize multiple assessment tools. Students with disabilities may communicate understanding effectively through presentations, demonstrations, lab work, and the creation of portfolios.

Dealing with Issues Related to Organization

Maintain a clean, organized laboratory. Clutter is an additional obstacle for students already struggling with organization. Maintain consistent places in the lab for supplies and equipment. Clearly label these stations. Establish and constantly reinforce techniques for often-used procedures, such as cleaning and returning lab materials, using goggles, and using specific lab equipment.

Note to Teachers, Parents, and other adults using this site: Please read this important information before continuing to surf this Web site with your children and students.

Dealing with Issues Related to Social Interaction

Create a climate of acceptance by modeling patience and tolerance. Students must feel comfortable asking questions and expressing opinions in the science classroom. Build laboratory and cooperative learning groups carefully. Students with disabilities must be grouped with students who will allow them to participate and use their strengths, but who are also willing to cooperate with their areas of difficulty.

Dealing with Issues Related to Time and Making Transitions

Provide an initial orientation to laboratory organization, equipment, and procedures. Make this instruction ongoing throughout the year, ensuring understanding of existing structures, and incorporating new techniques and equipment as needed. Make students aware of time limits before and during laboratory exercises and small group work.

Warn students a few minutes before the scheduled ending of an activity. This eases transition from one activity to another, and forces the group to come to closure.

Supporting Special Education Students in Science    Page 2 of 2


Classroom Observation 


Administrators would expect to see students working with simple machines of some sort and determining how a simple machine is changing the force or motion of the object they are working with. Administrators will also see students writing observations and making predictions based on their observations.


Test Specifications

There is a lot of information contained in the resources section that is beyond the standards when looking at the additional information included in the test specification documents, including work, pulley's (pulley's excluded in test specs, but included here in definitions twice, while other simple machines that would be classified as simple machines and aren't excluded are not defined), and Newton's Laws (explains kids aren't expected to know them in one place, but included in instructional resources and elsewhere), potential and kinetic energy, etc.... a lot of elementary teachers feel weak in physical science already, would be good to include only what is truly needed to meet this standard and make it more accessible to teachers :)

I don't know if the test specs were available when these were developed, but there is a lot of additional information that would be useful to include when breaking down the standards for a resource like this!