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# Lesson Plan Activity

## Overview: Student will experience acceleration, speed, and velocity by conducting an

experiment.

Objectives:
The learner will be able to explain how to measure speed and velocity.
The learner will be able to explain forces that affect motion.

Resources/Materials:
Each lab group (2-3 students) will need:
 1 Ruler with a central groove
 1 Marble
 1 Stopwatch
 1 Meter stick (2 per group, if possible)
 1 Compass
 3 textbooks (measuring about 8 cm high when stacked)
 Science notebook to record data

Activities:
1. Prior to activity students have previewed concepts to be explored by reading in
their textbook and viewing video clips about speed and velocity.
2. Students will:
 Create a ramp about 8 cm high by leaning their ruler on a stack of
textbooks.
 Create a table in science notebooks to record Time (sec), Distance (cm),
Average Speed (cm/sec), and Velocity (speed and direction).
 Roll a marble down the ramp, measuring how far the marble traveled
after 2 seconds.
 Calculate the average speed by dividing the distance the marble
traveled, by the time it took.
 Use the compass to determine which direction the marble rolled when it
left the ramp.
 Repeat this process by rolling the marble again and measuring at 3
seconds, 4 seconds, and 5 seconds.
3. Students will answer the following questions in their science notebooks:
 Compare the average speeds of the marble for the four trials. Use
numbers to interpret the data by identifying the pattern in the data.
 At what point did the marble reach its greatest speed?
 Draw a conclusion about the velocity of the marble. Did the velocity
change and time increased? If so, in what way did it change?
Conclusion:
 Discussion:
 How would using a longer ruler affect the speed?
 Would the surface of the floor affect the results?
 What do you think caused the marble to slow down?

This lesson plan falls under the behaviorist theory. Wilson & Meyers article on Situated
Cognition provided a sample of behaviorist learning insights, a few of which helped me to
identify this lesson as behaviorist.
 Learn by doing: Students are actively engaged in experimenting with the
concepts of motion.
 Behavioral objectives: Students are expected to explain reasoning and
understanding.
 Focus on results: objectives are focused on measurable behaviors.
 Task decomposition: the activity previous to the lab was for background
information and the lab itself was broken down into specific steps.
 Direct instruction: before the lab, I walked through the basic steps with
students and even showed them how to set up their lab.

This lesson is pretty typical of how I teach labs and I was a little surprised when I realized
that it was behaviorist. I don’t think behaviorism is necessarily bad, but it is not the way I
want to teach science. I believe science should be more about investigating and discovering
and developing an understanding of how the world works through experimentation. In the
past I have taught this lesson as an “investigation” in which students tried the lab before
they had exposure to the background material. This caused a lot of confusion. I think this
was partly because my students are used to being spoon-fed and that is what I want to get
away from. I want them struggle through and solve their own problems instead of quitting
whenever it gets difficult.

What I would like to try in the future is to turn the activity around and create it from a more
constructivist perspective. It will take some time to collect and create all the resources I
would need. I would like to present students with a task and let them create a project from
that. The general task would be:

## Create a laboratory experiment which demonstrates and explains the concepts of

speed and acceleration and the possible forces involved. You will need to
demonstrate your experiment as well as create a visual to present your hypothesis,
materials, procedure and data collected. At the end of the project, you will share