August 17th, 2016

This activity elicits student thinking about representations of motion and the concept of speed. Through the “four corners” activity students are required to use evidence to support their argument.

1.3 Motion POE

1.6 — Four Corners (Optional)

App Features

  • Using the motion lens students will:
  • Record a video.
  • Create a path.
  • Add high and low speed stickers (optional).

Expected Activity Time

  • Total Activity Time: 40 minutes
  • Introduction: 10 minutes
  • Activity: 25 minutes
  • Explain: 10 minutes

Total Extension Time (optional): 45 minutes

  • Record a Video: 45 minutes

Materials and Prep

  • Worksheet: Four Corners.
  • iPad with Playground Physics app.
  • Signs for room corners (Mark, Tania, Claire, Antonio).


Introduction (10 minutes)

  • Have students silently read the worksheet “Four Corners” and individually think through their responses to the scenario on the worksheet.
  • Have students commit to an answer and write down their explanation.

Activity (25 minutes)

  • “Four Corners” is an activity for prompting discussion about multiple-choice questions. In this activity, each corner of the room is designated with one of the answer options from the worksheet (Mark, Tania, Claire, Antonio). Start the activity by having each student move to the corner of the room that represents the answer that he/she thinks is right.
  • Have students in each corner discuss internally why they have chosen that answer.
  • Have students choose a representative from their corner to explain to the class why they think their answer is right, with the objective of convincing others that they are correct. Remind students to use evidence from the path of motion to show why they believe the answer they are supporting is the best answer.
  • Throughout the debate, the students have the opportunity to switch corners to reflect the things they have considered and discussed over the course of the conversation. As the facilitator, let the students make their arguments for who they agree with; students should do most of the talking. Be wary of peer pressure and encourage students who are unsure not to be persuaded without a sufficiently compelling argument. This activity can last a long time, so set a time limit beforehand.
  • Although there is a “best” answer to this activity, students may make an argument that is convincing and may match with the data. In the end what matters the most isn’t that students choose Claire as the correct response but that they are able to demonstrate, with evidence, why the answer they support is correct.

Discussion (10 minutes)

  • Tell students that in this scenario the ball was accelerating. Introduce students to the concept of acceleration explaining that acceleration refers to how fast something changes speed. Each point on the screen in the app represented how far the ball traveled in one unit of time (for example, one second). When the points are close together that means the ball was traveling more slowly, so the distance the ball traveled did not change very much between each point. As the ball accelerated, the points get farther apart because the speed of the ball was increasing. If the points were equally spaced apart, that would mean that the ball traveled the same distance in the same amount of tim,e which tells that the ball would be moving at a constant and unchanging speed. In this case the best answer is Claire.
  • Have the students go back to the worksheet and add to or edit what they were originally thinking to reflect what was learned in the activity.
  • Remember to check the “Parking Lot” of questions at the end of the class period. Remove any questions that have been answered and have students add any new questions that may have come up.


Record a Video (45 minutes)

Have students try to recreate the motion using the app. They may or may not get it on the first try. Spoiler Alert: It is a ball rolling down a slide or any inclined plane you create in your classroom.

Answer Key

The best answer is Claire: The path shows that the ball started moving slowly, and then went faster and faster.

Worksheet Previews

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 12.15.59 PM Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 12.16.08 PM

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Big Idea

The purpose of this activity is to encourage students to interpret the intervals and distinguish between slow versus fast speed, and increasing speed versus constant speed, using a motion diagram. The “Four Corners” activity is designed to promote scientific reasoning and articulation of scientific thinking.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will interpret a motion diagram.
  • Students will use scientific reasoning to construct an argument and to explain data.

Standards Addressed


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.


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.WHST.6-8.1.B: Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant, accurate data and evidence that demonstrate an understanding of the topic or text, using credible sources.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.2.D: Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

Comprehension and Collaboration

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6,7,8.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.6,7,8.3: Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.


Standard 4: The Physical Setting

5.1b: The motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed.


  • Motion is an object’s change in position.
  • Distance is the total amount of ground covered by an object in motion.
  • Speed is how fast an object is moving regardless of its direction.
  • Acceleration is how fast something changes speed.

Device Strategies

Single-device implementation

Shorten class discussion time after the “Four Corners” activity by telling students that the path is that of a ball rolling down an inclined plane. Have two students (one to film and one to be the performer) recreate the performance in front of the class. Examine the results as a class.

Multiple-device implementation

Break students into small groups and have them recreate the performance guesses and analyze the results in these groups. Then come together for full class discussion.