Force and Motion


SciGuides are a collection of thematically aligned lesson plans, simulations, and web-based resources for teachers to use with their students centered on standards-aligned science concepts.

Whether planning a trip to mars, determining the structure of atoms and molecules, or using tire marks to recreate an automobile accident, many of the applications of science involve prediction of what objects are going to do and how they will interact. Fortunately, we know a great deal about such motions and interactions, thanks to centuries of scientists studying just these things.

This SciGuide addresses four main themes—describing position and motion, Newton’s first law, Newton’s second law, and Newton’s third law. Accurate and reliable descriptions of where something is and what it’s doing are essential for laying a groundwork for the causes of motion and changes in motion. Newton’s laws, used by scientists and laypeople alike, provide the solid framework of those causes. The contents of this SciGuide will provide resources for understanding and applying all these concepts in a way that will tie the formal statements with practical experiences and applications.

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Reviews (18)
  • on Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:57 PM

SciGuides are really fantastic.When it's time to teach about force and motion, I can be confident knowing I'll have the Force and Motion SciGuide to go to for lesson plans, simulations, and web-based resources. I'll be able to create outstanding lessons in a shorter amount of time since many resources are easily accessible in this SciGuide

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:44 PM

SciGuide: Force and Motion This SciGuide is very well organized. It includes a map of the four main themes it addresses: 1) Position and Motion. 2) Newton’s First Law. 3) Newton’s Second Law. 4) Newton’s Third Law. It emphasizes how accurate descriptions of an object’s position and its change in position are essential for understanding the causes of motion and changes in motion. Newton’s Laws provide the solid framework of those causes. Resources available in this SciGuide promote an understanding of the content as well as how to apply the concepts through practical experiences. It includes excellent lesson plans that are appropriate for grade 5-8. However, these lesson plans can be tailored for grades 3-4 as it includes great websites and a wealth of resources.

Shahinaz Nassar  (Wailuku, HI)
Shahinaz Nassar (Wailuku, HI)

  • on Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:07 PM

This guide offers more than one way to get into force and motion. There are multiple resources for each of Newtons three laws of motion. There are great hands on activities included with each lesson. There are extra external links, in case you didn't have enough. As an educator you can use just the simplest ideas in this guide, or go really deep and spend hours mucking in the details. This guide is suited for both elementary and upper level education.

Zac Hansel  (Honolulu, Hi)
Zac Hansel (Honolulu, Hi)

  • on Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:54 AM

This SciGuide could keep a teacher busy for hours just exploring the vast resources it has. But there is a filter to narrow down the possibilities. The guide has background information, videos, simulations and and numerous web links. It has everything a teacher would need to teach an unit on Force and Motion.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:31 PM

I love this Sciguide. I am always wondering where to look for good ideas and interesting resources both for hands on activities and online resources. This is full of wonderful information that is broken down by topics and spans all four of the Force and Motion Science Objects. I think it is a must have if your looking for good ways to help students understand force and motion in our world. Thank you NSTA!


  • on Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:22 AM

Excellent collection of materials that are thematically organized according to the laws of motion by Newton. There are linkages to various experiments, activities equipped with animations, online experiments, assessments, and other learning tools.

Ronaldo Relador  (Bowie, MD)
Ronaldo Relador (Bowie, MD)

  • on Thu Sep 15, 2011 5:50 AM

Although listed for grades 5-8, this SciGuide is appropriate for a high school level conceptual physics course (or for physics course designed for lower level math students). This is an excellent collection of resources. Some are standards (like the balloon rocket lab) but others like the online gravity assist simulator are educational, use real world technology and are fun for the students to explore. There are many student-friendly, fun interactive activities like “Galileo drops the ball” virtual lab where students will enjoy learning about freefall, air resistance etc. I could use the many interactive animations to teach concepts, have them calculate quantities based on the variables used in the simulations. One of the links – has many shockwave animations with activity sheets to go along, which could be used as self-study or review before tests. It would be great if there can be a symbol next to the activities showing type of math skill required for each link. Example: whole number math, pre-algebra, algebra including graph analysis, geometry, etc.


  • on Thu Nov 11, 2010 5:21 PM

This SciGuide has some nice movies, animations and simulations you can use directly with your students to help them learn the difficult concepts of Newton’s laws. The air track simulation in Newton’s third law allows you to control the mass and piston force, and zoom when you launch the carts. You can pause to take measurements as well. This is very helpful, especially if you do not have the physical tracks. Even if you do, compare and contrast the simulation to the real thing! If you need help on the concepts or laws, check out the free Science Objects for Newton’s Laws. The SciPack for Force and Motion provides unlimited email support from a content mentor and the ability to take a final assessment to demonstrate your content knowledge.

Albert Byers  (Oakton, VA)
Albert Byers (Oakton, VA)

  • on Thu May 02, 2013 6:40 PM

This sci guide I believe to have the most useful simulations. It makes available many of the simulations used in the sci pack, and since I did the sci pack I am familiar with them and feel comfortable sharing them with students. I will surely be using the simulation to make some "lab type" data collection scenarios for my students to supplement the learning. If I could provide a suggestion it would be to have more content available for higher level students. Seems to be focused on younger learners.

Jason Ward
Jason Ward

  • on Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:39 PM

Who doesn't want to play with toys in the classroom. This science guide was full of engaging activities that applied Newton's Laws. It made for critical thinking and allowed students to apply Newton's Laws to real life situations. What is also great about these lessons are the materials are either readily available, free or cheap. Overall, I felt that these lessons worked great with the students and was a great way to introduce and have students critically think about physics.


  • on Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:06 PM

This SciGuide has a lot of wonderful resources. I especially liked the roller coaster lesson plan. It has a huge amount of details to make the lesson come off without a hitch. The lesson was very inquiry based but has a very specific rubric and plan for each day and each member of the group. It really gave me enough information to think about to help structure other projects I had going in my class. Another plus was the amount of resources on the web that were listed here. They were also categorized by type of resource (online, hands on, inquiry, graphics, assessments, career, etc). From that information it was easy for me to make a great webquest that focused in on the aspects of Newton's Laws that I wanted to focus on for my class. The only thing that I'd like to see on this SciGuide is more lesson plans on this subject. It would be great to have a lesson that didn't take 6 rotations or was such a large investment in time.

Vanessa Cannon  (Kihei, HI)
Vanessa Cannon (Kihei, HI)

  • on Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:22 PM

The sci guide for force and motion was very useful in coming up with different activities for my lesson plan. The sci guide gives an overview of all of the material for the content and also has a section for hands on activities that could be incorporated into any lesson plan. The activities that are linked to the sci guide are really simple but it gets the content across to the students. I think that using the activities for middle school students would be perfect, but for high school students, it might need to be adjusted or just use it as a demonstration. One of the major down side to this sci guide is that it does go really heavily into force and motion where it uses equations. In my class, I use a lot equation and have my students solve a lot of word problems. I think if there was a portion of the sci guide that has a walkthrough for the students to complete word problems, it would have been better. On the other hand, I think that this sci guide was made for middle school students and you have to make some adjustments if you are teaching high school.

Sung Yi  (Honolulu, HI)
Sung Yi (Honolulu, HI)

  • on Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:06 PM

1. What are some key points from the SciGuide that made an impression upon you? The NSTA SciGuide Force and Motion is an excellent resource to use in a Physical Science class. It is easily divided into the sections of Position and Motion, and Newton's 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Laws. It gives clear, concise sources for teachers and provides students with the hands-on and interactive links that use real world scenarios such as the roller coaster simulation and designing a roller coaster to the Marble Roll Challenge (a national competition set up to allow students from around the country to compete from their own classrooms. Included in the SciGuide are lesson such as Rollercoasters!, Hovercrafts!, Cannister Olympics!, and 3-2-1 Blastoff! The lesson with the greatest impact on me was the rollercoaster simulation and design. Other classes at our school were actually building roller coasters out of newspapers. With the smaller number of students in my class, this was not feasible, so my students were able to get the same experience through internet simulations. My students were able to try out a variety of designs and simulations and see the outcomes in the same period of time! 2. How could you utilize this SciGuide in your teaching? I have and will continue to use this SciGuide in my teaching by incorporating it into the units that deal with force and motion and Newton's 3 Laws of Motion. The lessons and links provided in this Guide allow me to use it my Physical Science class (SC.PS.7.1 Apply the laws of motion to determine the effects of forces on the linear motion of objects, and SC.PS.7.2 Use vectors to explain force and motion) just to name a few. There are many great stand alone assignments, and others mesh nicely with my current curriculum. 3. What are some suggestions for improvement in the SciGuide? A few of the links in this SciGuide were unavailable to access (like the Marble Roll , and Motion and Force Online Vocabulary Quiz As the internet is constantly changing and sites come and go, this is understandable, but disappointing as I wanted to use the Vocabulary Quiz as a post-test to the unit I had just taught.

Nancy Iaukea  (Pahoa, HI)
Nancy Iaukea (Pahoa, HI)

  • on Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:54 PM

This SciGuide is a great resource when designing or adapting a unit on force and motion for a high school physics class, or even a physical science class for younger students. I love how the guide is so well organized; its easy to find links and resource files for the concepts you are covering.

Rebecca F  (Elizabeth, WV)
Rebecca F (Elizabeth, WV)

  • on Sun Aug 14, 2011 2:29 AM

This SciGuide actually has some really great ideas! In particular, I like how it incorporates a group project where students try to make their own roller coasters, largely from everyday items that could potentially be found at home. The rubric is also very clear with its criteria, and it is very much a standards based lesson. It gives students a chance to demonstrate what they've learned while at the same time trying to make learning fun and relevant to their lives. I especially liked the picture of the sample student work as it gave an example of a finished product. One thing that I think could be improved upon is the wording of some of the directions. If I were to give my students the procedure they would be overwhelmed and possibly discouraged. I would have to modify this to the literacy level of my students, but that is not really the SciGuide's fault.

Loren Nomura
Loren Nomura

  • on Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:28 PM

This is an excellent collection of resources forclassroom use both for teacher background and for ideas on how to structure lessons to lead students to confront their prior conceptions and to move forward. Augumenting the lessons with additional sims or leading questions is up to the teacher and may depend upon technology available in the classroom.

Patricia  (Arlington, VA)
Patricia (Arlington, VA)

  • on Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:02 PM

The activities used were helpful.

Sharon Mosley  (Tyler, TX)
Sharon Mosley (Tyler, TX)

  • on Tue Nov 17, 2015 11:54 AM

I was very excited to buy this pack. It has a 2004 date on it's credits. Many of the links do not work because they are outdated. I was somewhat disappointed. Someone at NSTA needs to update the links.

Teri  (Columbus, OH)
Teri (Columbus, OH)

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