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Smithsonian Science for the Classroom™: How Does Motion Energy Change in a Collision? 1-Use Module

(in stock)


Grade 4. Module Highlights: In 15 lessons over 20 class sessions, students explore how motion energy can move and change in a collision. In the first focus question, students learn how motion energy can change into heat, light, and sound and move to another object. In the second focus question, students use evidence from collisions to construct a claim that faster objects have more motion energy. They read about how being fast can help plants and animals survive. In the third focus question, students look at ways that motion energy can change to heat. They carry out an investigation into how the surface affects how far an object slides. They learn how air can slow objects down and construct an explanation that motion energy causes air to heat up. They learn that when objects deform, motion energy changes to heat. In focus question four, they learn that a helmet can protect our brain by changing motion energy to heat. They design a helmet using an egg as a model for the head. In the science challenge, students apply what they have learned about motion energy to predict how far a moving washer will move a stationary washer in a game.

This module includes a teacher guide, 10 Student Activity Guides, 16 Smithsonian Science Stories student readers, and enough materials for 32 students to use 1 time.

Correlation to the Next Generation Science Standards*
Performance Expectations

  • 4-PS3-1: Use evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object.
  • 4-PS3-2: Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
  • 4-PS3-3: Ask questions and predict outcomes about the changes in energy that occur when objects collide.
  • 4-LS1-1: Construct an argument that plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction.
  • 3-5-ETS1-1: Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.

Disciplinary Core Ideas
PS3.A: Definitions of Energy

  • The faster a given object is moving, the more energy it possesses.
  • Energy can be moved from place to place by moving objects or through sound, light, or electric currents.

PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer

  • Energy is present whenever there are moving objects, sound, light, or heat. When objects collide, energy can be transferred from one object to another, thereby changing their motion. In such collisions, some energy is typically also transferred to the surrounding air; as a result, the air gets heated and sound is produced.
  • Light also transfers energy from place to place.

PS3.C: Relationship Between Energy and Forces

  • When objects collide, the contact forces transfer energy so as to change the objects' motions.

LS1.A: Structure and Function

  • Plants and animals have both internal and external structures that serve various functions in growth, survival, behavior, and reproduction.

ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems

  • Possible solutions to a problem are limited by available materials and resources (constraints). The success of a designed solution is determined by considering the desired features of a solution (criteria). Different proposals for solutions can be compared on the basis of how well each one meets the specified criteria for success or how well each takes the constraints into account.

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions**

  • Research on a problem should be carried out before beginning to design a solution. Testing a solution involves investigating how well it performs under a range of likely conditions.
  • At whatever stage, communicating with peers about proposed solutions is an important part of the design process, and shared ideas can lead to improved designs.
  • Tests are often designed to identify failure points or difficulties, which suggest the elements of the design that need to be improved.

**Indicates a DCI that is addressed in the module but not summatively assessed.

Science and Engineering Practices

  • Planning and carrying out investigations
  • Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information


  • Developing and using models
  • Constructing explanations
  • Engaging in argument from evidence
  • Asking questions
  • Analyzing and interpreting data
  • Defining problems
  • Designing solutions

Crosscutting Concepts

  • Energy and matter
  • Cause and effect
  • Systems and system models


  • Scale, proportion, and quantity
  • Structure and function

Concepts and Practices Storyline
Focus Questions and Lesson Summaries
Focus Question 1: How does motion energy move and change?
Lesson 1: Move It

Moving objects have motion energy.
Students make observations of a video to identify similarities between objects that move.
Lesson 2: Give Me Some Energy
Heat, light, and sound are evidence for energy.
Students make observations of systems to collect evidence about how motion energy moves and changes.
Lesson 3: Supermodels
Motion energy can change into heat, light, and sound.
Students use a model to argue that motion energy can move and change in a system.
Lesson 4: Marble Collisions
Motion energy can move to another object in a collision.
Students predict an answer to a question about how changing the motion of marbles affects their motion after a collision.
Focus Question 2: How does speed affect motion energy?
Lesson 5: Sound Barrier

Faster objects produce more sound in a collision.
Students carry out an investigation to collect evidence that shows that faster objects cause louder sounds in a collision.
Lesson 6: Bumper Cars
Faster objects have more motion energy.
Students plan and carry out an investigation into the effect of speed on how far a moving object is displaced and construct an explanation that faster objects have more motion energy.
Lesson 7: Fastest on Earth
Plants and animals have structures that help them move fast.
Students obtain and combine information to construct an explanation that internal and external structures of plants and animals work together to help an animal survive.
Focus Question 3: What causes moving objects to slow down?
Lesson 8: The Rough with the Smooth

Motion energy changes to heat when an object slides on a surface.
Students plan and carry out an investigation to show that a smoother surface causes an object to slide farther than a rough surface.
Lesson 9: Air and Space
Motion energy changes to heat when an object moves through the air.
Students obtain information from a text to provide evidence that when objects move through air, motion energy changes to heat.
Lesson 10: Bouncing Balls
Motion energy changes to heat when a soft object deforms.
Students plan and carry out an investigation to show that fully inflating a ball causes it to bounce higher than a partially inflated ball.
Focus Question 4: How can we protect our brains in a collision?
Lesson 11: Playing Safe

It is important to protect our brain.
Students define the problem of collisions in sport causing damage to the nervous system.
Lesson 12: Egg Drop Challenge Part 1
Several solutions to a problem need to be considered.
Students design a model of a bicycle helmet that changes motion energy to heat.
Lesson 13: Egg Drop Challenge Part 2
A solution to a problem needs to be tested.
Students carry out an investigation to test a model of a bicycle helmet that changes motion energy to heat.
Science Challenge
Focus Question 5: How can we predict how far an object will slide in a collision?
Lesson 14: Slide 'n' Collide Part 1

Speed and surface affect how far an object will slide in a collision.
Students plan and carry out an investigation to determine how speed and surface affect how far an object slides in a collision.
Lesson 15: Slide 'n' Collide Part 2
Data from an investigation can be used to move an object a set distance.
Students analyze data to find the ramp height and surface that will cause a washer to move a set distance.

*Next Generation Science Standards® is a registered trademark of WestEd. Neither WestEd nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in the production of this product, and do not endorse it.


What’s Included:
  • How Does Motion Energy Change in a Collision? Teacher Guide
  • 10 How Does Motion Energy Change in a Collision? Student Activity Guide
  • 16 Smithsonian Science Stories Literacy Series™: Speed Bumps
  • 1 Digital Access to Teacher Guide and Student Literacy (for 32 students)
  • 18 Ball, Inflatable, 5"
  • 16 Ball, Stainless Steel, 1"
  • 24 Block, Wood, 2 x 6 x 11-1/2"
  • 1 Card Set, Energy Stations, Set of 6
  • 3 Container, Plastic, 16 oz
  • 50 Cup, Cone, Paper, 4 oz
  • 30 Cup, Paper, 3 oz
  • 45 Cup, Plastic, 2-1/2 oz
  • 25 Cup, Plastic, 9 oz
  • 25 Cup, Styrofoam®, 8 oz
  • 1 Dough™, Crayola®, Orange, 3 lb
  • 16 Economy Dynamics Cart
  • 12 Egg, Plastic
  • 3 Flashlight, Squeeze, Blue
  • 1 Group Role Poster, 24 x 36"
  • 1 Newton's Cradle, 5 x 4-1/2 x 6-1/2"
  • 3 Noisemaker
  • 1 Packing Peanuts, 9 x 12" Bag
  • 20 Pad, Absorbent, Large
  • 2 Paper, Waxed, 75-ft Roll
  • 9 Pegboard
  • 9 Pie Tin, Aluminum, 9"
  • 100 Pipe Cleaner, Assorted Colors
  • 16 Rubber Band, #64
  • 18 Ruler, Plastic, Metric (12")
  • 9 Tape, Masking, 3/4" wide, 36-yd Roll
  • 8 Timer, Student
  • 16 Tube, Plastic, 1-7/10 x 6"
  • 1 Twine, Cotton, Roll
  • 60 Washer, Metal, Large
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