Mystery Forces

Contributor
Amplify Learning Ashley Chase
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Textbook
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

Mystery Forces is a non-fiction selection from Amplify Learning’s Seeds of Science, Roots of Reading.  The story presents a series of mysterious events, and asks students to be a “force detective” to determine which force (electrostatic, gravity or magnetic) caused the event. Students are engaged in the scientific practice of constructing an explanation based on evidence as they solve each mystery.


This book supports students’ understanding of non-contact forces for third grade.  The different mysteries could be presented as anchoring phenomena to be solved as the students engage in the investigation of the phenomena for each case.  The explanations in the story could then be used as the basis for discussing the student’s explanations and developing students' understanding of these concepts.  While gravitational force as a performance expectation is actually addressed until fifth grade, the Atlas of Science Literacy does place the learning of this concept within the range of grades 3-5 (http://strandmaps.dls.ucar.edu/?id=SMS-MAP-1372), making it acceptable to include this concept at the third grade level.  It is also included in the Assessment Boundary for Grade 3.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Grade 3
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Available for purchase - The right to view, keep, and/or download material upon payment of a one-time fee.

Performance Expectations

3-PS2-3 Ask questions to determine cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other.

Clarification Statement: Examples of an electric force could include the force on hair from an electrically charged balloon and the electrical forces between a charged rod and pieces of paper; examples of a magnetic force could include the force between two permanent magnets, the force between an electromagnet and steel paperclips, and the force exerted by one magnet versus the force exerted by two magnets. Examples of cause and effect relationships could include how the distance between objects affects strength of the force and how the orientation of magnets affects the direction of the magnetic force.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to forces produced by objects that can be manipulated by students, and electrical interactions are limited to static electricity.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
If the mysteries in the story are used as anchoring phenomena as suggested, students need to be afforded opportunities to ask questions as they engage in the investigation of forces and apply their understanding to solve the mysteries. To address the performance expectation to include cause and effect, it is suggested that the mysteries be investigated in the classroom, and the cause and effect relationships explored and made explicit as the students investigate them.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
By asking students to identify the force involved in the mystery with an explanation supported by evidence, we are essentially asking them to make a claim and construct an argument with evidence. All that is needed is to have students actively engage in a discussion that will allow them to share their claims and explanations and exchange student feedback.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students should have many opportunities to observe magnetic, electrostatic and gravitational force as a phenomena. Including measurement wherever possible enables students to quantify the amount of force that can be exerted over a distance. Having students actually investigate the mysteries in the classroom will enable students to make first hand observations of the mystery itself. These observations and/or measurements collectively will provide students the evidence needed for an explanation to solve the mysteries.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
In each of the mysteries, a force is being exerted between objects that are not in contact with each other. The size of the forces in each situation depended on the properties of the objects and their distances apart. For example, in the Case of the Moving Spoon, the amount of force exerted would depend on the strength of the magnet, the thickness of the table creating the distance apart, the type of metal the spoon is made of, and the mass of the spoon. In the Case of the Floating Train, it is the strength of the magnets, as well as the orientation of the magnets on the train and on the track to each other that enables the train to float above the track.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
As included in the tips for the performance expectations, it is suggested that the mysteries be investigated in the classroom, with the cause and effect relationships explored and made explicit as the students investigate them.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The alignment of this resource to the Disciplinary Core Idea is superior. It identifies gravity, magnets and static electricity as forces that exert pushes or pulls on objects. It is also consistent in reinforcing the concept that they can exert forces between objects that aren’t in contact with each other. The alignment to the Practice of Engaging in Argument is also strong. By asking students to identify the force involved in the mystery along with an explanation supported by evidence, we are essentially asking them construct an argument with evidence. The alignment of this resource to the Performance Expectation and Crosscutting Concept can be made explicit by having students actually investigate the mysteries in the classroom, thereby enabling students to make first hand observations, and explore the cause and effect relationships between objects not in contact with each other.

  • Instructional Supports: Mystery Forces can provide students with a purpose for making sense of phenomena. It uses scientifically accurate and grade appropriate information, phenomena, and representations to support students’ three-dimensional learning. Implemented as suggested, it also provides students with opportunities to express, clarify, justify, interpret, and present their ideas. While the suggestion in this review is for the different mysteries to be presented as anchoring phenomena to be solved, how this resource is ultimately used should depend on the instructional sequence decided upon by the teacher and the needs of his/her students. A strategy guide on how to map these concepts can be found here: http://www.scienceandliteracy.org/sites/scienceandliteracy.org/files/strategyguides/Seeds_SG_GM_MysteryForces.pdf It should also be noted here that this resource is a student book. Actual investigation of the mysteries in the classroom will especially benefit struggling students as it will enable them to bring meaning to text. Reading this resource aloud is another alternative, and there is a glossary of content vocabulary at the back of the book to assist students. Finally, it might be engaging to extend the learning fby having the students create their own mysteries

  • Monitoring Student Progress: This resource is intended to support and enhance instruction, and as such, does not provide for the monitoring of student progress. If the mysteries are investigated, the observations/data collected and recorded by the students would provide formative assessment information. It is suggested that the students be provided opportunity to independently reflect on their learning as part of these investigations as it would provide individual progress information. The claims and explanation produced would provide additional assessment information. Finally, the discussion as students present their claims and explanations, as well as the response of the class to the various claims and explanations presented provide a valuable source of assessment information by which to monitor student progress.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This resource does not include a technologically interactive component.