August 17th, 2016

This lesson provides a template that can be used to guide students through the process of conducting a science investigation. Students first plan their experiment, then make predictions, observe their results, and use scientific principals to explain the results. This lesson can be used to explore any of the lenses (motion, force or energy) within the Playground Physics app and can be completed as a stand-alone lesson or in addition to the lessons in each unit.

1.1 motion bingo

0.4 — Getting Started: Science Investigation (Optional)

App Features

Using the lens of your choice students may:

  • Record a performance using the “freestyle” activity template.
  • Use previously recorded performances.
  • Create a path.
  • Add height or mass.
  • Adjust ground height.
  • Add high and low speed stickers.
  • Add push and pull stickers.
  • Add kinetic and potential energy stickers.

Expected Activity Time

  • Total Activity Time: 3 hours (four class periods)
  • Introduction: 45 minutes
  • Record videos: 45 minutes
  • Investigation: 45 minutes
  • Discussion: 45 minutes

Materials and Prep

  • Fun props to create videos
  • iPad with the Playground Physics app
  • Videos created by students in the app
  • Projector with iPad adaptor
  • Worksheet: Science Investigation


Introduction (45 minutes)

  • Tell students that today they are going to get the chance to design their own investigation using the Playground Physics app. They will be able to choose what type of activity they want to investigate.
  • Have students work with their group to brainstorm a topic they want to investigate. If the class has been keeping a “Parking Lot” (list) of questions as they explore the app through the lessons in the following units, the questions in the parking lot may be a way to help spark ideas from groups who are struggling in choosing a topic to investigate. It is okay if multiple groups pick the same type of investigation. Scientists often replicate experiments others have conducted to see if they get similar results. If groups get different results, this can create an opportunity for a stimulating discussion about why the results were different.
  • After brainstorming, each group should pick one idea and complete the “Design” and “Predict” portions of the worksheet.

Record videos (45 minutes)

  • Now that students have a plan they can go ahead and collect data through the use of the Playground Physics app. Students may want to note on a piece of paper which video is which trial or say a trial number at the beginning of each recording so they don’t lose track if they are changing the variable slightly in different recordings.

Investigation (45 minutes)

  • Once students have collected their data they will need to decide a format for compiling the data from the videos. They can record this data in the “Observe” section of the worksheet or on additional pages.
  • Once students have compiled their data from the videos in the app they should work as a group to use their data to complete the “Explain” portion of the worksheet.
  • Each group should plan a brief presentation to share their investigation and results with the class. Give students time guidelines for how much time they will have to present and answer questions from their classmates. If time allows, students may want to choose a video from the app to play for the class to demonstrate how they conducted their experiment.

Discussion (45 minutes)

  • Groups should present the results of their investigation to the class. Each student in the group should present part of the investigation so that all members of the group get experience talking in front of the class.
  • As each group presents, students should write down a question they have for the group who presented. After a group has presented, call on the same number of students to ask questions of the groups as there are members of the group. So, if there are four students in the group, four students in the audience should ask questions. Members of the group should each be responsible for answering one question. By the time all groups have presented, everyone in the class has experienced asking a question and answering a question.
  • After all groups have presented their investigations, ask students if there are any new questions that they have after hearing the presentations. Allow them to share their answers.

Worksheet Previews

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.37.23 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.37.06 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 2.36.20 PM

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Big Idea

The purpose of this activity is to allow students to explore physics concepts through their individual interests. Using the format in this lesson, students will design and carry out an experiment using the Playground Physics app.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to design and carry out an investigation around physics concepts.
  • Students will be able to use data from the playground Physics app as evidence behind their reasoning for the results of their investigation.

Standards Addressed


Science and Engineering Practices

Asking questions and defining problems; planning and carrying out investigations; constructing explanations and designing solutions; engaging in argument from evidence; scientific knowledge is based on empirical evidence.

Crosscutting Concept: Patterns

Observed patterns of forms and events guide organization and classification, and they prompt questions about relationships and the factors that influence them.


Research to Build and Present Knowledge

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.7: Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.

Key Ideas and Details

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.3: Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments,

taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.

Literacy in Science

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.7: Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).

Text Types and Purposes

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.6,7,8.1: Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

Device Strategies

Single-device implementation

With only one device, you can project the iPad so that the entire class can watch and be involved in the recording and investigation/annotation of a single video.

Multiple-device implementation

With many devices, students may be broken up into teams to work collaboratively on their iPad to annotate and investigate their videos. Teams of three to four students work well. Suggestions for student roles in each time can be found in the introduction.