August 17th, 2016

This activity groups items related to force that seem similar and challenges students to choose which item in the group is not like the others. Students use supporting evidence to explain their reasoning.

2.3 Force odd one out

2.6 — Force: Odd One Out (Optional)

App Features

Note that the Playground Physics app is not required for this lesson.

Expected Activity Time

  • Total Activity Time: 40 minutes
  • Introduction: 5 minutes
  • Activity: 15 minutes
  • Discussion: 20 minutes

Materials and Prep

  • Force: Odd One Out Worksheet
  • iPad with Playground Physics app (optional)


Introduce the Activity (5 minutes)

  • In this activity, students will be choosing what they think is the best answer to the question “which is the odd one out.” Remind students that there is a best answer, but that in some cases, they can make correct arguments for other answers.

Activity (15 minutes)

  • Have students work individually to fill out the worksheet. If students are having trouble constructing a response, ask them to imagine using the Playground Physics app to record the scenario. What are some things they might see? You might also want to stage a few scenes using the app for inspiration.

Break students up into groups and ask them to agree on one answer for each row in the table.

Discussion (20 minutes)

  • Go through each question on the worksheet as a class. For each question, have groups share their answer and reasoning for it.

Do not be surprised when each group has a different response for which scenario is the odd one out. A correct answer is judged by the thinking behind the argument and not whether the answer is right or wrong. Look for the most compelling argument.

Remember to check the “Parking Lot” of questions at the end of the class period. Remove any questions that have been answered, and add any new questions that may have come up.

Answer Key

Remember these responses are only best answers and as with any good argument, students may come up with alternative responses. Alternative responses are acceptable as long as their claim is supported with enough evidence or reasoning.

Row 1
Sample response: A man leaning on a wall is supported by the wall (pushing); the other options all involve pulling situations.

Row 2
Sample response: In the chair example we are only talking about the forces on the chair, not the force pair; scenarios 1, 2 and 4 identify the force pairs. Choice 3 involves outside forces (friction) not involved in the force pair (chair vs. mover). So choice 3 is the odd one out.

Row 3
Sample response: Scenarios 2, 3 and 4 identify the force pairs. Choice 1 involves outside forces (the sun’s gravity on Earth) not involved in the force pair (Earth versus moon).

Worksheet Previews

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 12.29.26 PM Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 12.29.34 PM

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Big Idea

The purpose of this activity is to provide an opportunity for students to draw upon their knowledge of forces to analyze relationships between items in a group. The worksheet may also be used to stimulate small-group or whole-class discussion after students have had an opportunity to think through their own ideas.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to use scientific reasoning to construct an argument about which scenario is the odd one out.
  • Students will be able to use experiences with the Playground Physics app to support their scientific reasoning.

Standards Addressed


Science and Engineering Practices
Engaging in argumentation from evidence: Construct and present oral and written arguments supported by empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon or a solution to a problem.


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.

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

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

PS 5.1q: According to Newton’s Third Law, forces occur in action/ reaction pairs. When one object exerts a force on a second, the second exerts a force on the first that is equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.


  • Force is an interaction between objects that causes a change in the motion of an object.
  • Newton’s Third Law of Motion explains that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
  • Force pairs (push/pull) are the two objects whose forces are acting on one another in equal strength and opposite directions. These forces can be in the form of a push or a pull.