Grade Level: 7 (6-8)
Choose From: 2 lessons and 5 activities
Subject Areas: Physical Science, Physics
SummaryIn this unit, students explore the concepts of mass, center of mass, equilibrium, and stability by exploring how objects balance. Students learn about linear momentum — movement in a straight line —and demonstrate conservation of momentum in collisions between objects of different masses. In associated literacy activities, students apply center of mass and the psychological phenomenon of momentum.
Engineers apply the concepts of mass, center of mass, equilibrium, and stability to safely design structures (auditoriums, shopping malls) and crafts (airplanes, cruise ships, kayaks). This is especially important for structures that may be impacted by heavy loads or natural phenomena like hurricanes or earthquakes. Engineers apply knowledge about momentum and collisions so they can design products with safety in mind. For example, engineers design cars with crumple zones—areas of the car that absorb the momentum of the forces hitting the car—and airbags to protect passengers by accounting for the conservation of momentum.
Suggested order of activities:
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Students also investigate the psychological phenomenon of momentum; they see how the "big mo" of the bandwagon effect contributes to the development of fads and manias, and how modern technology and mass media accelerate and intensify the effect.
This lesson introduces the concepts of momentum, elastic and inelastic collisions. Many sports and games, such as baseball and ping-pong, illustrate the ideas of momentum and collisions. Students explore these concepts by bouncing assorted balls on different surfaces and calculating the momentum for...
Students examine collisions between two skateboards with different masses to learn about conservation of momentum in collisions.
To learn about the concept of center of mass, students examine how objects balance. They make symmetrical cut-outs of different "creatures" and experiment with how they balance on a tightrope of string. Students see the concept of center of mass at work as the creatures balance.
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Last modified: August 3, 2021