May the Force Be With You!by: Timothy Young and Mark Guy

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Students use a portable force indicator to discover the net forces all around them. By directly observing these forces, students can better understand the effect these forces have on an object.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (3)
  • on Tue Jun 12, 2018 3:22 PM

This article is the definition of hands-on learning! Force/motion is all around us, yet can be one of the most difficult concepts within science to conceptualize. Even the NSTA SciPack on this topic emphasizes the importance of providing students with both qualitative and quantitative experiences with force and motion in order to bridge this common visualization gap. Using the 5E framework of engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate for science instruction, this article dissects an upper-elementary lesson that integrates an engaging (and cost-effective!) device into the classroom: the Fin-di. The Fin-di illustrates ideas around net force, acceleration, friction, and inertia using the simple materials of a peanut-butter jar, cork, piece of string, hot glue, and water. By including photographs and rubrics, this article also makes it easy to imagine how the Fin-di could be used as an initial hook, to elicit students’ prior knowledge, for just-in-time instruction, or for a variety of other functions that align with Ambitious Science Teaching. The best part? Teachers are always looking for resourceful ways to integrate technology and devices into the classroom and the Fin-di is an excellent tool for doing just that!

Jamie Vescio
Jamie Vescio

  • on Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:22 AM

Wow, after 40 years in science education, I thought I had seen everything there was to teach! But this article introduced me to a Fin-di which shows the action of forces applied to it. Great detailed article about force.

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

  • on Sun Oct 16, 2011 6:12 PM

Loved it! I'd give it 6 stars if I could. Using the 5-E manner of introducing a concept; this easy to implement lesson clearly demonstrates a "net force". A net force is the “resulting” force or the overall force that is acting on an object when adding individual forces. A teacher background is provided, as well as the concept-divided into five segments, each addressing one of the 5-E's.There are also excellent pictures to go along with the discussion provided by the authors. Included at the end of the article is a Formative Assessment Probe and also also a rubric for the teacher to use. This is a very complete, thorough and high quality activity that can be used easily with no modifications for 4-8th grades.

Sue Garcia
Sue Garcia

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