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Physics Lesson Plans (52 results)

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.
10 Popular Physics Science Projects
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
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What goes up, must come down in this thrill-seeking lesson plan! How much energy does a roller coaster car need to make it through a loop? In this lesson your students will learn about kinetic and potential energy as they build their own roller coasters from simple classroom materials. 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-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: Kindergarten
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Your kindergarten students are used to moving objects. They throw balls, play with toy cars, and sweep the floor, but how much do they think about these actions? In this fun, hands-on lesson, you will use a game (rolling balls) to explore how pushing and pulling affects an object's motion. This lesson can be expanded with a second lesson exploring how objects can push each other, and how weight influences motion. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • K-PS2-1. Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object.
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: 6th-8th
Learn about real space flight and Newton's laws of motion with this fun lesson! This new twist on a classic project lets your students build a multi-stage balloon rocket that they can launch across the classroom. 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.
  • MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
When light interacts with an object, it can be absorbed, transmitted, or reflected. This lesson focuses on materials that reflect light. Specifically, students will use mirrors and flashlights to investigate how light is reflected from a surface. By doing that, they will discover that when a light ray hits a reflective surface, its angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection, which is stated by the law of reflection. Students will then use their gained knowledge in a mirror maze… 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.
  • MS-ETS1-4. Develop a model to generate data for the iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
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: 1st
In this lesson, students explore firsthand what transparent, translucent, and opaque mean, and how they are related to light. They will place a variety of materials in front of an illuminated object and predict if and how well they will be able to see the object through the material sheet. In doing that, students will realize that different materials allow different amounts of light to pass through. Remote learning: This lesson plan can be conducted remotely. The Engage section of the… Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 1-PS4-3. Plan and conduct investigations to determine the effect of placing objects made with different materials in the path of a beam of light.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
Add a twist to a classic activity with this fun lesson plan. Your students will design and build a ball run for a ping pong ball using nothing but paper and tape. Their goal is to make the slowest ball run possible. How long can they make it take for the ball to go through their ball run? The 2022 competition is over, but you can see what students built and learn about the winners on the 2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge summary page. Teachers, note that elementary and high… 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.
Lesson Plan Grade: 6th-8th
Rube Goldberg machines—machines that complete a simple task in a convoluted way—are intriguing, artistic, and fun! In this lesson, students will design and build such a machine themselves and use the concept of kinetic energy in the process. Before students start designing, they will do an experiment that explores how kinetic energy depends on the mass and the speed of the moving object. With a clear understanding of this concept, students then tackle the engineering design… Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • MS-PS3-1. Construct and interpret graphical displays of data to describe the relationships of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object.
  • MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
Lesson Plan Grade: 3rd
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Forces, which we might instinctively describe as pushes and pulls, are acting on us at all times, but we cannot always see them. This hands-on lesson offers a fun opportunity to explore "invisible" forces like gravity and air resistance. Students will build parachutes and investigate how they allow skydivers to safely land. Read more
NGSS Performance Expectations:
  • 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.
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