Year 5: Forces
This list consists of lesson plans, activities and video clips to support the teaching of forces in Year Five. It contains tips on using the resources, suggestions for further use and background subject knowledge. Possible misconceptions are highlighted so that teachers may plan lessons to facilitate correct conceptual understanding. Designed to support the new curriculum programme of study it aims to cover many of the requirements for knowledge and understanding and working scientifically. The statutory requirements are that children are taught to:
• explain that unsupported objects fall towards the Earth because of the force of gravity acting between the Earth and the falling object
• identify the effects of air resistance, water resistance and friction, that act between moving surfaces
• recognise that some mechanisms, including levers, pulleys and gears, allow a smaller force to have a greater effect.
Visit the primary science webpage to access all lists.
Links and Resources
A series of lesson plans in which children find out about gravity, air resistance, water resistance and friction. Children develop their understanding of balanced and unbalanced forces and their effects and investigate how mechanisms, like levers, pulleys and gears, help us to use smaller forces.
Children think of forces in terms of movement, not staying still. If an object is not moving they think that there are no forces acting upon it. This misconception may be challenged using the demonstration on slides 14-17. A ping pong ball is prevented from falling to the ground by placing a straw on top of it and sucking some of the air out. The pressure of the air above the ball is lower than the pressure below it so the ball is prevented from being pulled down by gravity. This video, which could be carried out in class also uses a ping pong ball to demonstrate forces in action.
Arrows are used to show the direction of forces acting on the object. It is important to place these arrows on the object as they act on objects. Quite often children will try to place the arrows next to or above the objects. A good way of getting children to think about placing the arrows is to cut out arrows abd have them physically stick them onto the object on which they are acting.
This lesson demonstration highlights ways of teaching the difficult concepts of mass, weight and gravity and includes ways of challenging the misconceptions that children may have in this area.
The practical activity where children measure the force and weight of objects using newton meters is a great way of developing the key skill of measuring accurately. This could be linked to a lesson in mathematics on reading different scales.
Providing a context for an investigation always excites children's imagination and gives them a reason for their investigations. It is based around the science that when an object falls to the ground it is affected by two forces: the force of gravity pulling it down and the force of air resistance, a type of friction, which slows down its fall. Parachutes work by using air resistance to oppose the force of gravity, slowing down the rate at which an object falls to Earth. This colourful comic provides a link into an air resistance investigation to find which is the best shape and size for a parachute. It also focusses on asking questions that can be investigated scientifically by devising a test.
Five activities related to the topic area of forces.
In the Balloon Buggy investigation children are challenged to work in teams to make their own balloon powered car. These cars may be modified by groups and then raced to see which is the fastest or used as a fair test by changing one aspect of the design in each group.
Other activities look at friction, how the force of air resistance affects moving objects, pushing and pulling and directions in which forces act.
Challenge children to think about the types of forces that apply to an aircraft during flight using activities based on the RAF's Red Arrows display team. Includes a presentation showing the pushes and pulls acting on an aircraft in flight an investigation using plastic tubs to investigate how pushing forces and friction affect movement.
Could show a video of the Red Arrows display team to stimulate discussion at the start of the lesson.
This D & T project provides a practical way of looking at the means by which machines (cams, levers, gears and pulleys) transform force into movement. Children explore a range of toys and mechanical devices identifying features like gears, cams and axles and thinking about how they transmit and transform movement. They then explore gears and cams in everyday objects, looking at how they work and gathering the knowledge they need to create their own mechanical objects.
Pages 6-9 on the pdf show pictures of levers and pulleys with suggested questions to stimulate thinking and discussion in class. It also shows diagrams of lever and pulley systems which could be set up in class for children to investigate. This investigation would help children understand that if you want to lift a big load with a smaller effort, the load must be nearer the pivot than the effort is.
This is an older resource with some good ideas, which could be updated by using more modern images. Though designed for lower secondary it can be adapted for use at primary level with children exploring and observing the effects of simple machines on movement.
The activities within this pack demonstrate key ideas and concepts used in designing and constructing buildings such as: how levers and pulleys work, the properties of materials and the forces involved in different structures.It includes a practical activity in which children make a lever to lift a grown up.
This resource provides a series of four activities based around teaching of simple machines, including: forces, levers, gears and pulleys. Designed to help children to think about the day to day issues faced by farmers, each activity is grounded in a real world context. These activities are available in both English and Welsh.