Editor selections by Topic and Unit

The Physics Front is a free service provided by the AAPT in partnership with the NSF/NSDL.

Detail Page

Item Picture
published by the PhET
This middle school lesson plan, with a step-by-step student guide, was developed for use with the PhET simulation Forces and Motion. It provides explicit directions for using the simulation in the middle school setting, with tips on how to present concepts of force interactions in a way that is developmentally appropriate for young adolescents. After completing this activity, students will be better prepared to identify when an object is being acted upon by unbalanced forces and predict the change in motion when a force is applied to an object.

This resource is part of PhET, the Physics Education Technology Project, a collection of simulation-based learning objects developed for learners of physics, chemistry, math, earth science, and biology.

Please note that this resource requires Java Applet Plug-in.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- Motion in One Dimension
= Position & Displacement
= Velocity
- Newton's Second Law
= Force, Acceleration
= Interacting Objects
- Middle School
- Instructional Material
= Activity
= Lesson/Lesson Plan
= Student Guide
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Lesson Plan
- Activity
- Assessment
- New teachers
  • Currently 0.0/5

Want to rate this material?
Login here!

Intended Users:
Access Rights:
Free access
© 2010 University of Colorado at Boulder
Additional information is available.
Newton's 2nd Law, force interactions, force pairs, forces, free body diagram, net force
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created September 27, 2011 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 14, 2016 by Lyle Barbato
Last Update
when Cataloged:
August 15, 2011

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Forces and Motion (PS2.A)
  • The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (6-8)
Relationship Between Energy and Forces (PS3.C)
  • When two objects interact, each one exerts a force on the other that can cause energy to be transferred to or from the object. (6-8)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Cause and Effect (K-12)
  • Cause and effect relationships may be used to predict phenomena in natural systems. (6-8)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices (K-12)

Developing and Using Models (K-12)
  • Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 and progresses to developing, using and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems. (6-8)
    • Develop and use a model to describe phenomena. (6-8)

AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)

4. The Physical Setting

4F. Motion
  • 3-5: 4F/E1a. Changes in speed or direction of motion are caused by forces.
  • 3-5: 4F/E1bc. The greater the force is, the greater the change in motion will be. The more massive an object is, the less effect a given force will have.
  • 6-8: 4F/M3a. An unbalanced force acting on an object changes its speed or direction of motion, or both.

11. Common Themes

11B. Models
  • 6-8: 11B/M4. Simulations are often useful in modeling events and processes.

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Dynamics: Forces and Motion
Unit Title: Newton's Second Law & Net Force

This lesson plan for Grades 6-8, with printable student guide, is a great supplement to the PhET simulation Forces and Motion.  The winner of a PhET "Gold Star", it was developed by an experienced teacher to provide explicit guidance for students as they use the simulation to investigate force interactions. We like it because it provides just the right amount of help to navigate the simulation, while also allowing students to construct their own meaning from the model.

Links to Units:
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
(PhET, Boulder, 2010), WWW Document, (https://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/3423).
PhET Teacher Activities: Balanced and Unbalanced Forces (PhET, Boulder, 2010), <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/3423>.
APA Format
PhET Teacher Activities: Balanced and Unbalanced Forces. (2011, August 15). Retrieved June 21, 2024, from PhET: https://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/3423
Chicago Format
PhET. PhET Teacher Activities: Balanced and Unbalanced Forces. Boulder: PhET, August 15, 2011. https://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/3423 (accessed 21 June 2024).
MLA Format
PhET Teacher Activities: Balanced and Unbalanced Forces. Boulder: PhET, 2010. 15 Aug. 2011. 21 June 2024 <https://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/3423>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {PhET Teacher Activities: Balanced and Unbalanced Forces}, Publisher = {PhET}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {21 June 2024}, Month = {August 15, 2011}, Year = {2010} }
Refer Export Format

%T PhET Teacher Activities: Balanced and Unbalanced Forces %D August 15, 2011 %I PhET %C Boulder %U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/3423 %O application/java

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D August 15, 2011 %T PhET Teacher Activities: Balanced and Unbalanced Forces %I PhET %V 2024 %N 21 June 2024 %8 August 15, 2011 %9 application/java %U https://phet.colorado.edu/en/contributions/view/3423

Disclaimer: ComPADRE offers citation styles as a guide only. We cannot offer interpretations about citations as this is an automated procedure. Please refer to the style manuals in the Citation Source Information area for clarifications.

Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

This resource is stored in 14 shared folders.

You must login to access shared folders.

PhET Teacher Activities: Balanced and Unbalanced Forces:

Supplements PhET Simulation: Forces and Motion

A link to the PhET simulation Forces and Motion, which this lesson was specifically developed to accompany.

relation by Caroline Hall

Know of another related resource? Login to relate this resource to it.
Save to my folders



Related Materials

Similar Materials