Constant Speed and Acceleration
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This assignment is designed for primary school physics class. The students are expected to have a grasp of basic mathematical operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). The goal of this lesson is to teach the students the basics of constant and accelerating movement with the missions that are set within KerbalEdu. The students will also learn about taking
measurements of their surroundings and gain hands-on experience of the two concepts taught.
Objectives - Students will be able to:
- Describe the concepts of constant and accelerating movement
- Demonstrate understanding of the concepts in KerbalEdu by controlling
Timeline: The lesson plan is designed to span a 60 minute lesson.
Materials: KerbalEdu installed on the student computers, lesson plan
Grouping: Students work in pairs or small groups on a computer. This enables different roles for the students and enhances collaboration: one in charge of piloting, one taking measures and third writing down the observations.
- Instruct: Open the game and select "Edu Motion" scenario from the list
- What is speed? The first test is set on the runway in front of the space center. There are posts along the runway marking distance. The goal is to measure the time it takes to travel the distance between the flags with the in-game stopwatch.
- The students start a rover down the runway by pressing ‘space’ and applying a little thrust, and measure the time it takes to travel the distance between the posts by hitting the buttons on the stopwatch.
- Draw a diagram with the distance travelled on one axis and time on the other. Ask them how fast they were going. For example, if they travelled from the first post to the fifth, and it took them 30 seconds, how many posts per minute did they pass? (the distance between the posts is 50m) If they know the unit (m/s, km/h, mph) they just might be able deduce how to calculate the speed.
- Accelerating Movement If we repeat the previous task but start alternating the thrust, what happens to speed?
- Load "Edu Drak Racing" scenario, that challenges the students to hit the target speed of 40 m/s with the vehicle. To do this, they need to alternate the thrust with ‘shift’ (accelerate) and ‘ctrl’ (decelerate). You score points for keeping the speed close to 40 m/s. After playing the challenge for a while, pause the game and talk about the challenge. What was easy and what difficult? Why? Make a point about the rarity of constant speed; it isn't found in the nature very often.
- Instruct: The Law of Inertia
- Newton’s First Law states that “An object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction if the forces affecting it...”
- It looks like a part of the law went missing! What’s the missing part? Test it on the runway!
- Write the law on the board and give the students 10-15 minutes to figure out the missing part.
- To make this easier, we have the Force Arrows. With them the students see a visual presentation of the total forces that affect the vehicle. Let them repeat the previous challenge, this time with Force Arrows installed by loading the "Edu Drak Racing with Arrows" scenario.
- Remind the students to take notes and talk with their group. If they are having a hard time getting started, you can scaffold the process further by suggesting they hit the target speed and observe the forces.
- Discuss: After every group has come up with at least some kind of theory, gather the their ideas together, for example on a blackboard. You can have each group presenting their idea and evaluate it as a group. If need be, you can test them together as a class to see if they hold up. End the lesson by completing Newton’s First Law: “An object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction if there are no forces acting upon it (the forces cancel each other out).”
Assessment: Throughout the lesson the students are producing hypotheses and measurements. Evaluate their work as individuals but also as members of a group. What kind of role did they assume in their group? Did they share the workload evenly?
Standards Alignment: Next Generation Science Standards (NGGS)
Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.
Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion.
Use evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object.
Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
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.