Pendulums and Crooked Swings: Connecting Science and Engineering

Contributor
Page Keeley
Type Category
Instructional Materials Assessment Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Experiment/Lab Activity , Activity , Assessment Item
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

This resource exemplifies the relationship between science and engineering while demonstrating how a formative assessment probe can be used to assess students' understanding. Students are asked to explain their thinking of how they might change the speed of a pendulum, launching students into a student-driven investigation to discover the variables affecting the number of swings a pendulum makes in a specific timeframe if need be.  Students then apply the knowledge gained through the investigation to engage in an engineering challenge presented in the resource “Crooked Swings”.

Intended Audience

Educator
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-PS2-2 Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion.

Clarification Statement: Examples of motion with a predictable pattern could include a child swinging in a swing, a ball rolling back and forth in a bowl, and two children on a see-saw.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include technical terms such as period and frequency.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The student-led investigation of the different variables affecting pendulum motion will enable them to make observations and take measurements that will provide evidence that it is the length of the string that affects the frequency a pendulum swings in a specified period of time. This will enable them to then predict why the “crooked swing” is not swinging properly, and design a solution to the problem.

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
Students will apply what they learned through their scientific investigations to solve a design challenge presented in “The Crooked Swing”, a story from “Yet More Everyday Science Mysteries” by Richard Konicek-Moran.

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

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students will plan and carry out the investigation of pendulums using simple materials such as string and washers. The resource recommends that teacher listen closely for evidence that the students are performing this practice. Questions are provided to guide the teacher’s observations, including, “To what extent can they design a fair test by controlling each variable?” and “Do they consider the number of trials?” It further recommends teacher feedback and mini-lessons be given as needed to properly move their investigations forward.

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

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The student-led investigation of the different variables affecting pendulum motion will enable them to make observations and take measurements that will provide evidence that it is the length of the string that affects the frequency a pendulum swings in a specified period of time. This will enable them to then predict why the “crooked swing” is not swinging properly, and design a solution to the problem.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
As discussed in the tips for the Performance Expectation, investigating the different variables affecting pendulum motion will enable them to make observations and take measurements to provide evidence that it is the length of the string that affects the frequency a pendulum swings in a specified period of time. This will enable students to then predict why the “crooked swing” is not swinging properly, and design a solution to the problem.

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
This resource recommends the use of probing questions to help students recognize patterns as they share their data in their “scientists’ meetings.” To make this crosscutting concept more explicit, It is recommended that the teacher probe for patterns in their observations as the students conduct their investigations as well.

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 with the crosscutting concept of Patterns, this resource recommends the use of probing questions to help students recognize cause and effect relationships as they share their data in their “scientists’ meetings.” To make this crosscutting concept more explicit, It is recommended that the teacher probe also for cause and effect relationships as the students conduct their investigations.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This resource strongly aligns with the conceptual shifts advocated by the NGSS, with elements of the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts working together to support students in making sense of phenomena, as well as to design a solution. As the story of the “Crooked Swing” launches the students into the entire design process, all of the Performance Expectations and supporting Disciplinary Core Ideas for Engineering Design are addressed as well.

  • Instructional Supports: This resource engages students in a meaningful scenario that reflects the practices of science and engineering, and provides them with a purpose for learning. The formative assessment probe titled “The Swinging Pendulum” identifies and builds on students’ prior knowledge. The probe, as well as engagement in the science and engineering practices provide multiple opportunities for students to clarify, justify, interpret and represent their ideas orally and/or in written form as appropriate. Guidance for teachers to differentiate instruction is provided. On page 32 it states that if students can already predict the correct answer is B, and support their prediction with why, then why spend valuable class time when students can already explain the cause and effects of changing the length of the string. If they are not ready the students can be engaged in the pendulum investigation before moving onto the Crooked Swing. Struggling students may need teacher support with the reading and comprehension of the assessment probe as well as “The Crooked Swing” story. Additional explorations with the pendulum may also be needed to clarify concepts that emerge in the “scientists’ meetings.” An interactive simulation such as PhET’s Pendulum Lab is suggested for students who have already met the performance expectations.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: This resource engages students in a meaningful scenario that reflects the practices of science and engineering, and provides them with a purpose for learning. The formative assessment probe titled “The Swinging Pendulum” identifies and builds on students’ prior knowledge. The probe, as well as engagement in the science and engineering practices provide multiple opportunities for students to clarify, justify, interpret and represent their ideas orally and/or in written form as appropriate. Guidance for teachers to differentiate instruction is provided. On page 32 it states that if students can already predict the correct answer is B, and support their prediction with why, then why spend valuable class time when students can already explain the cause and effects of changing the length of the string. If they are not ready the students can be engaged in the pendulum investigation before moving onto the Crooked Swing. Struggling students may need teacher support with the reading and comprehension of the assessment probe as well as “The Crooked Swing” story. Additional explorations with the pendulum may also be needed to clarify concepts that emerge in the “scientists’ meetings.” An interactive simulation such as PhET’s Pendulum Lab is suggested for students who have already met the performance expectations.

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