Swinging with Style

Contributor
Teach Engineering Ashleigh Bailey; Megan Podlogar; Malinda S. Zarske; Denise W. Carlson
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Experiment/Lab Activity , Lesson/Lesson Plan
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

In this lesson, which is an associated activity to the curated resource The Science of Swinging, students further investigate the variables that affect a pendulum’s motion by riding a playground swing. Students then extend their knowledge of pendulums to engage in an engineering design challenge that involves designing timekeeping devices using human pendulums on the playground.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 3
  • Grade 2
Language
English
Access Restrictions

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

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 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
As students observe swinging on the playground, they can be asked to look for patterns in their data and use that data to predict future motion. Some of the vocabulary used in the lesson (such as inertia and period) are beyond the scope of the 3rd grade standards, but the teacher can modify the lesson accordingly.

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.

Clarification Statement: Examples could include an unbalanced force on one side of a ball can make it start moving; and, balanced forces pushing on a box from both sides will not produce any motion at all.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to one variable at a time: number, size, or direction of forces. Assessment does not include quantitative force size, only qualitative and relative. Assessment is limited to gravity being addressed as a force that pulls objects down.

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
To make the concepts of balanced and unbalanced forces explicit, students should first be asked to make observations about the forces acting on the student when he/she first sits on the swing. Students should then make observations about the effects of forces when the student pushes off and pumps his/her legs, and once the swing is in full motion. As this lesson is an associated activity to The Science of Swinging, students should be asked to support their observations with reasoning. Having them record it in their science journals provides documentation of their learning.

3-5-ETS1-2 Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

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
In this lesson, students are asked to apply their understanding of pendulum rate to create a human-powered swing clock. They are then asked to share their invention ideas and explanations, and compare their solutions. To fully meet this Performance Expectation, a problem that will drive this investigation needs to be identified. Criteria and constraints for this design challenge also need to be established.

Science and Engineering Practices

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 share their invention ideas and explanations. Once a problem is identified, and criteria and constraints established, the effectiveness of their solutions can be compared.

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

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students make observations and collect data that will serve as evidence to explain how different variables affect the motion of a pendulum’s swing. It is recommended that they discuss their data as a class. The pumping action of the swinger is a variable that is difficult to control and its effect on motion should be an integral part of the data discussion. Students should be required to cite evidence to support their responses to question #3 on their Pendulum Worksheet. Their responses could also be provided in the form of a claim that is supported by evidence and reasoning in their science journals.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
After collecting and discussing their swing data, students should be asked to use their data to predict what will happen to the motion of the swing in different scenarios.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The students will investigate the variables that affect the motion and strength of the swing. The forces that are acting on the swing while it is in motion need to be made explicit as students are making their observations. The concept of zero net force may be introduced as students discuss their ideas about the forces acting on the student when he/she first sits on the swing.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
To more explicitly address this Disciplinary Core Idea, the merits of the different design solutions should be discussed. Students should then be given the opportunity to improve their designs based on the ideas shared in discussion.

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
Students will be investigating the effects of mass and chain length on the motion of the swing. The identification of the variables as causes for the resultant motion needs to be made explicit as students conduct their investigations.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Three-dimensional learning is present in this lesson. Students will collect observational data to understand the variables that affect the motion of a playground swing. Students will then apply this understanding to engage in an engineering design challenge. This lesson builds on The Science of Swinging. To strengthen the alignment of this lesson to the dimensions, the concepts of balanced and unbalanced forces on the swing motion, and the crosscutting concept of cause and effect need to be integrated more explicitly into the lesson. Students should also be asked to use their data to predict future motion of the swing in different scenarios.

  • Instructional Supports: This lesson engages students in an investigation that reflects the practice of science as experienced in the real world. It integrates the playground activity of swinging, which is meaningful to them. It builds on the associated activity of The Science of Swinging, and the lesson extension activities provide opportunities for further student engagement across lessons. Pendulum Bowling is especially recommended as it allows students to actually create and test their design solutions. Student worksheets are offered in editable format and could be improved by adding space for students to record the engineering design process.Strategies for differentiation of instruction are not provided. Students who are struggling in mathematics may need support with the graphing of their data and the calculation of pendulum rate. Students who exceed expectations might be encouraged to engage in their own ideas for a design challenge.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Students will engage in a hands-on investigation that will elicit direct, observable evidence of their learning. This resource includes a coherent assessment system that includes a pre-lesson, post-introduction, and lesson summary assessment. In particular, the Sales Pitch assessment provides for a great real world connection. In the absence of a scoring rubric, a student-generated rubric is recommended.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: Technological interactivity is provided for in the Multimedia section, but the interactive feature is only provided for roller coaster design.