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Fastballs, Free Throws and Physics

Students will create an animated video that showcases how physics concepts apply to their favorite sport.

App: Frames

Fastballs, Free Throws and Physics

Task

Physics helps explain the world around us, but many students can't see this connection and lose interest in science. After a Physical Science unit on Force and Motion, ask students to create an animated video that shows other students how physics explains what happens during different sports activities.

Engage

To begin, complete your regular Physical Science unit on Force and Motion. Let students know that as an assessment, they will apply what they learned to create an animated video that explains how physics affects their favorite sport.

Review Newton's three Laws of Motion and review the definitions of friction (including sliding, rolling, fluid, and static), gravity, acceleration, inertia, momentum, velocity, force, projectile motion, and frame of reference. Tell students that they are required to illustrate four of these topics and at least two of Newton's three Laws of Motion in their project.

To ensure quality products, and help students get started, explore examples of past student work that meet project objectives. Then, choose a sport most students are familiar with and work as a class to discuss how a force or motion topic could be illustrated for this sport. For example, asking the class questions like “Where can you find projectile motion in football?” or “Where can you find friction in tennis?” are great ways to start the discussion. Once they have identified where in football they would find projectile motion or where in tennis they would find friction, ask how they would illustrate that in an animation.

After the class discussion, have students choose the sport they are most interested in as the basis for their project, and identify the four terms and two laws they will illustrate. Have them individually brainstorm how they will illustrate each topic using their sport.

Once students have had time to think through their animations, get the class back together and have them share some of their ideas. This will give you an opportunity to identify and correct any misinformation prior to the animation work. It also gives students ideas that they can use for their own animations.

Create

Before students can begin using Frames, they must plan their animation using a project storyboard. Students should think of each box of the storyboard as the computer screen and sketch what will be depicted for each scene. Students should use the storyboard to clearly define and describe the physics terms they are illustrating, thoroughly sketch out what will happen in their animation for each term, and write out the text or narration they will include for each segment. The more detailed the storyboard is, the easier it will be for students to create their animations.

Once the students have completed their storyboards, meet with them individually to discuss what they plan to do for their animation. Then let them begin work on the computer with Frames.

Students can use the drawing tools in Frames to create illustrations and animated models of how physics interrelates with the sport they have chosen. Many will also have digital images of themselves playing their sports that will help make the project more meaningful to them.

Students can also add text, adjust timing, and record narration to explain the terms and laws of motion. When the animated movie is complete, students should “make” their movie into a file format that can be shared online or in presentations.

Physics Sample

Share

Have each student present his or her animated movie to the class. While viewing the animations, ask the students to keep a log of each animation, what they liked about it, and what the author could do to improve it. I also like to post the animations on my school website, so other students can use them for review or extended studies.

Assessment

Use the student's storyboard as a formative assessment to see how well each student understands the physics concepts being illustrated. Then work with the student to correct any misconceptions or elaborate the information.

Create your own rubric for free at rubric-maker.com

The final animation will help you assess their understanding of the physics concepts, as well as their ability to communicate information using multimedia.

Resources

Goodstein, Madeline. Sports Science Projects: The Physics of Balls in Motion (Science Fair Success)

Vizard, Frank (Editor). Why a Curveball Curves: The Incredible Science of Sports (Popular Mechanics)

Standards

SES Content Standard

B: Motions and Forces

The motion of an object can be described by its position, direction of motion, and speed. That motion can be measured and represented on a graph.

An object that is not being subjected to a force will continue to move at a constant speed and in a straight line.

If more than one force acts on an object along a straight line, then the forces will reinforce or cancel one another, depending on their direction and magnitude. Unbalanced forces will cause changes in the speed or direction of an object's motion.

NETS for Students:

1. Creativity and Innovation

Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.

4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making

Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources.

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