Modelling Motion

An inquiry-based unit of seven lessons, integrating Science and Mathematics. Students observe, then model a variety of different motions with mathematics. Contexts include rolling balls and falling objects, Olympics events, and Galileo’s experiments. The modelling of a motion mathematically is used to make predictions such as “how long will it take a ball to hit the ground?” Students strengthen concepts of speed and acceleration, and see that unbalanced forces produce change in motion. They build mathematical modelling skills and experience the power of mathematics in STEM. The concepts of speed and acceleration are initially built from very concrete graphs made from streamers which directly track the motion. Depending on students’ level, they will make and interpret mathematical representations including tables and graphs, use proportional reasoning, and work with rates of change.

A minimum of four lessons is recommended, with seven lessons ideal. Ideas for extension projects are included. Detailed guidance is given on the equipment required and tested ways to gather good data. The lessons can be taught in an ordinary classroom space.