Creating force diagrams is an important skill for students to acquire so that they are able to understand and describe the forces acting on an object. In this activity, students will create quick, clear, and easy force diagrams. The instructions in this activity are specific to the example storyboard above. You can alter this storyboard and add it as a template, or create your own scenarios for students to diagram by editing the instructions.
Forces are a vector quantity, meaning they have both size and direction. We can represent these forces using an arrow. The direction of the arrow represents the direction of the force and the length of the arrow represents the size of the force. If the forces are balanced, they are said to be equal and opposite. Balanced forces have a resultant (net) force of zero. When there is no resultant force, the object will either travel at a constant speed if it was already moving, or remain stationary if it wasn’t moving. If the forces are unbalanced, then there is a resultant force. If the object was stationary, the resultant force will cause the object to move.
You can stretch more advanced students by getting them to draw the resultant forces in each of the examples. You can simplify these diagrams even more by using shapes instead of images of the objects.
In terms of differentiation you can make this task more easily accessible by giving students a list of the forces they need to include in each cell. To stretch your gifted and talented learners, give them more complex situations to draw diagrams for, where the forces don’t lie on the x, y, z axis. An example of this is given in the storyboard with the rappeler.
Grade Level 4-6
Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual or Partner
(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)
Create force diagrams in a range of different contexts. Remember forces have both a size and direction. This means you need to be careful about the direction of the arrow and its length.
(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
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| Emerging |
| Beginning |
Force Arrows and Labels
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Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.
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