Kites and Forces

Arshad Saleem Bhatti
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Lesson/Lesson Plan
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.



This lesson is in the form of a lesson plan with teacher notes and a video that introduces the various parts of the activity including timed breaks for students to complete hands on activity related to the topic. This lesson introduces aerodynamics using kites as an example. During the lesson, learners measure net force acting on a kite by blowing air using a spring scale. They also measure the tension in the string and relate the two forces to each other.

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • High School
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

HS-PS2-1 Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration.

Clarification Statement: Examples of data could include tables or graphs of position or velocity as a function of time for objects subject to a net unbalanced force, such as a falling object, an object rolling down a ramp, or a moving object being pulled by a constant force.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to one-dimensional motion and to macroscopic objects moving at non-relativistic speeds.

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

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This lesson takes a unique approach to Newton’s Law by using flying kites as the application, and extends it to the specifics of the drag force. The lesson includes a video that includes places to pause and complete the lab activity related to measuring forces, and to relating force, acceleration, and mass.

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
The video lesson introduces the concept and then challenges the learner to investigate the relationships between force, acceleration, and mass using a spring scale and an object to drag. The teacher notes and instruction within the video offer sufficient guidance for the students to complete the investigation. The lab materials required are calibrated spring scales and simple objects to drag.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The lesson addresses Newton’s second law through investigation of kite flying. The concept is investigated by the student in an activity introduced in the video, then the concept is explained in the next section of the video and related to the drag force as well.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The investigations that the students are lead through in the video and in the teacher notes have them investigating the cause effect relationships between force, mass, and acceleration in Newton’s second law.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The lesson supports all three dimensions of learning in their investigation of the phenomena of flying a kite. The concept of Newton’s second law and its relationship between force, mass, and acceleration are investigated by students during the experiments with the spring scales. While investigation these relationships, students are looking for cause effect relationships, and they are analyzing data to form their conclusions.

  • Instructional Supports: Good instructional supports are included in the teacher notes, as well as within the video lesson by the instructor. There are additional places within the video (after the introduction of each new concept) that can be used to pause the video and discuss with students to assess their understanding. These are sufficient to assist a teacher in using the lesson successfully with a class.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The teacher notes and video offer questions for the learner that can be used as an assessment of understanding as well as the hands on experiments recommended for the breaks in the video lesson.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The video can be downloaded to be played in a school with a slower connection. The teacher notes are available in pdf and as a word document so are accessible on most systems.