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  • Elizabeth Barrett-Zahn

Motion and Stability (S&C Editor's Note)

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

The kid-friendly topic of Motion and Stability (PS2) allows PreK to grade 5 students the possibility to make predictions, carry out investigations, and make claims supported by evidence. The study of forces and interactions is always a crowd-pleaser in my K-5 classroom, albeit noisy at times! And 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 “play” and explore is essential in building 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 as well as begin to explore stability and change within a system.



My favorite starting point for investigations of forces and interactions is with an anchoring text, and there are so many choices described in this month’s issue, where concepts can be introduced, and vocabulary 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. Providing 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 can serve 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 can provide more opportunities to change variables, repeat trials without time-consuming resetting of elements, and keep track of cause and effect relationships through instant replay.


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



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