Jump to main content

Push, Pull and Weight


Grade Range
Group Size
2 students
Active Time
50 minutes
Total Time
50 minutes
Area of Science
Key Concepts
Push, Pull, Motion, Weight
Sabine De Brabandere, PhD, Science Buddies
Drawing of two soccer balls rolling


Experimenting with balls is fun! In this hands-on lesson, you and your students will make them collide and study how balls can push each-other and people too! While exploring, students will also feel how pushing a light ball is different from pushing a heavier ball. Weight is important.

This lesson fits well together with a lesson where students push balls to discover how people use pushes and pulls to change motion.

Learning Objectives

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations. With guidance, plan and conduct an investigation in collaboration with peers.
Disciplinary Core Ideas
PS2.A: Forces and Motion. Pushes and pulls can have different strengths and directions.
Pushing or pulling on an object can change the speed or direction of its motion and can start or stop it.

PS2.B: Types of Interactions. When objects touch or collide, they push on one another and can change motion.

PS3.C: Relationship Between Energy and Forces. A bigger push or pull makes things speed up or slow down more quickly.
Crosscutting Concepts
Cause and Effect. Simple tests can be designed to gather evidence to support or refute student ideas about causes.


Two baseballs next to a wiffle ball

For each group:

For the entire class:

Background Information for Teachers

This section contains a quick review for teachers of the science and concepts covered in this lesson.

Students know from experience how pushing or pulling on an object can affect the object's motion. Maybe they explored how their own actions influence the motion of objects in a science lesson similar to this Push and Pull lesson plan. In this lesson, they will generalize this concept by seeing how objects can push or pull on other objects, as shown in Figure 1.

Drawing of a car smashing into the back-end of another car
Figure 1. A car crashing into an other car is an example of an object pushing another.

People can change the motion of objects by exerting a push or pull on the object. For example, you push a box to make it move, and you push harder to make it move faster. In a similar way, objects can push or pull another object. If a minivan runs into the rear of a small sports car waiting at a red light, both cars will push each other and consequently change their motion. The sports car will speed up, and the minivan will slow down. If it runs into a heavy truck, the heavy truck will hardly change its motion. That shows how the result of a push depends on the weight of the object being pushed. In this lesson, students will explore all this by rolling balls into each other. During the collision, the balls push each other just like the colliding cars push each other, and the pushes will change the motions of both balls.

The size of the push plays a role in its impact as well. This influence is studied in the introductory lesson on Push and Pull.

Technical note:

The term weight is used throughout this lesson to refer to how heavy an object is. In everyday language, weight and mass are often used interchangeably, but in science they have different meanings. Mass is a measure of how much "stuff," or matter, makes up an object. An object's mass does not depend on gravity, so it does not change based on your location (an object has the same mass on Earth and on the Moon). Weight is a measure of how hard gravity pulls on that mass, which changes with location (an object weighs more on Earth than it does on the moon). Technically, the impact a force (a push or a pull) has on an object's motion depends on its mass, not its weight. However, in the Next Generation Science Standards, students are not expected to differentiate between mass and weight until middle school, so it is OK to use "weight" with kindergarteners.

Engage (10 minutes)

Explore (30 minutes)

Reflect (10 minutes)


Make Career Connections

Lesson Plan Variations

Free science fair projects.