Physics Lesson Plans

Classroom Lessons

Simply Machines - Rube Goldberg Project
Newton's Challenge
Speed Machines
Speed Challenge
Bubble Gum Physics
Hot Wheelin' Physics
Acceleration Lab 

Also check out ...

Lesson Plan Links for Physics - Links to my favorite online resources for lesson plans, activities, and worksheets.
PBS Kids - Design Squad for ideas to address STEM concepts in your curriculum! Visit the Parents & Educators area for lesson plans and activity ideas!
Need project ideas for engineering or technological design? Visit
The Science Club page for ideas! Don't miss the Junk Box Wars projects!

Digital Lessons

Science of Spin (PPT) - This was developed as a 1 day activity for use during our Nature of Science unit - the last video make a great connection with the unit.  The lesson challenges students to make observations of a spinning "tube" or "redneck fidget spinner" (as I call them).  My hubby and I cut 1/2" PVC pipe into lengths of 2.5 inches.  The lesson guides students to determine the science to explain their observations.  The first slide of the PPT includes a link to the video lesson I used with my remote students as well as the digital assignment for students (Google Slides).  I also included a link to a great resource to provide background information for teachers to help them implement it in their classroom.   NOTE: If you have a shop class at your high school, see if they can cut the PVC pipe to the lengths you need.


Internet Lessons

NOTE:  All links previously availble on the Kid Zone are now listed in the Sites for Students area.  Please provide the links your students need for assignments through your LMS or teacher website.

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Classroom Lessons

Simply Machines - A Rube Goldberg project (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted concepts:  Simple machines, engineering design

This project is an excellent addition to any simple machines unit! Teachers have the option to tailor the assignment to fit their student's grade/ability level. For some of my classes, I require them only to draw the design labeled from start to finish. In advanced classes, students are challenged to design and build the device. Science Olympiad offers a Mission Possible event that requires students to take this idea even further with a host of requirements and limitations.

The task to complete can be as simple as turning on a light bulb or feeding a pet. The students must use at least 3 different types of simple machines to accomplish the task. Each step (minimum of 10) must be labeled and described from start (a) to finish (b).

For more information about Rube & his devices, check out the Official Rube Goldberg site.

Project Worksheet: Simply Machines 4/6/2020
Also available - Google Drawing Tutorial or Tutorial Video on You Tube

Also try ...

  • Simply Machines - Holiday Version - Utilize this lesson with any of the Home Alone movies to revew simple and compound machines.  The final project challenges students to create a Rube Goldberg-style device to accomplish a holid-related task.  The student worksheets, teacher notes, and links to digital resources are listed in the download.

  • Work & Machines Textbook - PDF textbook created using resources on covering concepts related to work, power, simple and compound machines as well as mechanical advantage.  I also created review worksheets (for each lesson) & a unit crossword using the unit vocabulary.

    COVID-19 NOTE:  I am using this as my plans for a two-week segment during our remote learning along with the Simply Machines project listed above.  For students without internet, they will receive printed copies of all the materials. For students with Internet, they will be able to (1) complete the review worksheets on Google Classroom or (2) watch the related EDPuzzle videos and take their own notes. I will add links to the EDPuzzle videos when they are ready to share.

  • TeachEngineering Simple Machine Unit - Find ready-to-use resources for a simple machines unit, such as this Simple Machines Scavenger Hunt worksheetThe unit also includes lessons on mechanical advantage and Rube Goldberg devices.

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Newton's Challenge - (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL) 
Targeted concepts:  Newton's laws (first, second, and third)

Students investigate all three of Newton's Laws of Motion during this lab activity that involves classroom and online activities. Check out the presentation file for more details about the labs. 

Student Worksheets: Newton's Challenge Lab (pdf)  & Newton's Challenge (Class Presentation)


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Speed Machines (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted concepts:  Speed, motion, forces

In this activity, students relate speed to some of the fastest machines on Earth. Students solve problems related to fast cars, boats, trains, and airplanes. The second half of the activity related speed to their own world as they computer the time it would take for each vehicle to travel a specific distance (i.e. from Havana, IL to Springfield, IL.)

Student Worksheet: Speed Machines (pdf)

Also available ... Thanks to Jennifer Bertolino for sharing her cube version of the Speed Machines worksheet. It is a PowerPoint file, so you can edit the faces of the cube to make your own challenges.

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Speed Challenge (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted concepts:  Speed, motion, forces

Challenge your students with this fun activity exploring speed! Students work together to collect data related to distance and time for four tasks: hopping, walking backwards, walking (regular rate), and speed walking. They use the data to calculate speeds for each task and solve related problems. We also discuss the variables that would affect their experiment and determine if their results are accurate and reliable.

Student Worksheet: Speed Challenge (pdf)


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Bubble Gum Physics (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted concepts:  Speed, acceleration, scientific inquiry

My students love this experiment involving bubble gum, speed, and acceleration. Since gum is not allowed in our school, the kids love the opportunity to chew gum in class and learn at the same time.

For the first part of the experiment, students use a timer to determine the number of "chomps" they can make in 10 seconds. The data they collect is used to calculate their chomping speed and make predictions for different amounts of time, such as 5 minutes or 1 day. During the second part of the experiment, students collect data about their chomping power and use the information to investigate speed as well as acceleration. For an added challenge, I allow the students to create an experiment involving bubble gum and give them the opportunity to investigate.

Student Worksheet: Bubble Gum Physics (pdf)

Also try the Bubble Gum Trivia Challenge (pdf) - Includes an answer key!

Also explore Invention of Bubble Gum (Facts/info/links) -


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Hot Wheelin' Physics (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted concepts:  Speed, motion, acceleration, forces

During this lab, students investigate the motion of toy cars. They may use Hot Wheel cars, wind-up cars, or remote control vehicles. To perform the tests, create a "race track" and position five students armed with stop watches at various points along the track. I use a 5 meter track with students at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 meter positions. As the car passes each point, the students should record the time in their data charts.

Once the three trials are complete, we head back to the classroom and use the data collected to analyze the speed of the vehicle between various points and overall speed. Students use the data to create graphs and analyze the reliability of their experiment. The main challenges we face during this lab are keeping the car on the track, making sure it travels the complete distance, and making accurate time readings. These are points for discussion as we determine if our tests are reliable.

Student Worksheet: Hot Wheelin' Physics (pdf)

Also try - Speed and Acceleration Practice (pdf) - A worksheet with problems related to speed and acceleration!


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Acceleration Lab (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)
Targeted concepts:  Speed, motion, acceleration, forces

What is acceleration? Before making accelerometers (see worksheet), I asked students for a definition of acceleration and gave them a mini quiz on acceleration that consisted of examples of acceleration and deceleration. Instead of going over the answers right away, I had the students hold on to the quizzes until after they had a chance to experiment with their homemade accelerometers.

We used index cards, string, and washers to make simple accelerometers. I gave the students time to experiment with their new devices in the hallway. They were able to observe that the washer moved when they slowed down or increased their speed as well as when they changed directions. After they had mastered keeping the accelerometer steady so they would be sure to make accurate measurements (observations) at all times, I told them to take the accelerometers home and experiment some more. They had to write down 2-3 observations to share with their classmates.

At the start of the next class, the students had a chance to share their observations in small groups (3-4 minutes). I asked one person in each group to share a few of the observations with the entire class. Many of the students observed the same things (usually related to a car or bus ride), but some of the kids took the assignment to heart and tried the accelerometers with a swivel chair, climbing stairs, etc. After the discussion, students had an opportunity to "fix" their quizzes before we went over the correct answers.

Student Worksheet: Accelerometers (pdf)


The Wave Excercise (Marc Bonem, Santa Fe, NM, 2011)
Targeted concepts:  Wave motion, sound, light

Explore wave motion and related concepts with this human version of the "wave". 

Activity Directions:  Wave Excercise (pdf)


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© 1999-2024
The Science Spot was developed in March 1999 by Tracy Tomm Science Teacher @ Havana Junior High, Havana, IL.  Activities, lessons, & worksheets available on any page of this web site are intended for use by a single teacher in his/her classroom or to share at educational conferences.  Reproduction for commercial use or profit is not permitted without the consent of Tracy (Trimpe) Tomm. Visit my Frequently Asked Questions page for more details.