Physics is the study of matter — what is it made of? How does it behave? What laws or equations describe it? From subatomic particles, to the Big Bang, modern physicists study matter at a tremendous range of scales. There's a whole lot of interesting physics at the human scale, too.

Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-12th
In this activity, students are asked to create a change in air pressure using a garbage bag and vacuum cleaner, then create an illustration, model or concept map that explains what is happening. This activity is part of the KQED Engineering Is: Bringing Fish Up from the Deep e-book. The e-book explores the science and engineering principles behind the California Academy of Sciences' portable decompression chamber, and includes videos,… Read more
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
How does light interact with matter? In this fun hands-on lesson, you students explore how different materials transmit, absorb and/or reflect light. They create their own experiments to demonstrate these phenomena and use a phones' built-in light sensor and Google's Science Journal app to add quantitative data to their arguments. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS4-2. Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
In this lesson plan, your students will build their own recycling sorting machines that use various methods, like magnets or puffs of air, to separate shreds of paper from paper clips. This lesson is inspired by the real-world engineering challenge of separating various materials, like paper, plastic, and metals, that get combined in single-stream recycling programs. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS2-3. Ask questions about data to determine the factors that affect the strength of electric and magnetic forces.
  • MS-PS2-5. Conduct an investigation and evaluate the experimental design to provide evidence that fields exist between objects exerting forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact.
  • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Lesson Plan Grade: 5th-8th
What helps SCUBA divers, sharks, fish, and other marine organisms stay in the water column? In this hands-on investigation, students will explore the concepts of buoyancy and mass to create a device to help an action figure stay neutrally buoyant, just like a scuba diver. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS2-2. Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object's motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
Do you feel like it is always too loud in your classroom? In this lesson you can find out exactly how loud it is. Using Google's Science Journal, your students will measure and graph the sound levels in your classroom for different working scenarios. How loud are your students when doing independent work, having a group discussion, or listening to their teacher? Based on your students' data, you will determine as a class which sound levels are ideal for each scenario and create a classroom… Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS4-1. Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave.
Lesson Plan Grade: 3rd-5th
Teach your students about the engineering design process with this fun lesson plan. They will design and build a ball-launching machine to knock down a target. Optionally, they can enter their designs in the 2020 Fluor Engineering Challenge for a chance to win a cash prize for your school! Teachers, note that middle school and high school versions of this lesson plan are also available, as is a Spanish language version of the basic challenge. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 3-5-ETS1-3. Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
  • 3-PS2-1. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
Teach your students about the engineering design process with this fun lesson plan. They will design and build a ball-launching machine to knock down a target. Optionally, they can enter their designs in the 2020 Fluor Engineering Challenge for a chance to win a cash prize for your school! Teachers, note that elementary school and high school versions of this lesson plan are also available, as is a Spanish language version of the basic challenge. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
  • MS-PS3-5. Construct, use, and present arguments to support the claim that when the kinetic energy of an object changes, energy is transferred to or from the object.
Lesson Plan Grade: 9th-12th
Teach your students about the engineering design process with this fun lesson plan. They will design and build a ball-launching machine to knock down a target. Optionally, they can enter their designs in the 2020 Fluor Engineering Challenge for a chance to win a cash prize for your school! Teachers, note that elementary school and middle school versions of this lesson plan are also available, as is a Spanish language version of the basic challenge. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • High School - Science & Engineering Practices
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
Aircraft carriers are much shorter than a typical airport runway. How do airplanes manage to gain enough speed for takeoff over such a short distance? A catapult gives them an extra boost! In this lesson, your students will practice engineering design as they build their own paper airplane launchers, while learning about kinetic and potential energy. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS3-2. Develop a model to describe that when the arrangement of objects interacting at a distance changes, different amounts of potential energy are stored in the system.

  • MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
Lesson Plan Grade: 4th
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If you love doing arts and crafts with your students, this lesson plan is for you! Teach them about energy, electricity, and circuits as they build light-up sculptures, using something they are all familiar with—play dough! Clear step-by-step instructions are provided and no previous experience with circuits is required. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 4-PS3-2. Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
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