Newton’s Laws of Motion Lesson Plan: Impulse Game

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this Impulse game lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-12, students will use BrainPOP resources (including an online game) to explore Newton’s first and second laws of motion and his law of universal gravitation.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Explore the laws of motion and universal gravity using an online game.
  2. Explain and describe Newton's laws.

Vocabulary:

gravity; motion; force; unbalanced; friction; resistance; accelerate; mass

Preparation:

This lesson plan uses a free online game called Impulse which helps students build intuitive understanding of Newton’s law of universal gravitation and first and second laws of motion. To succeed in the game, students need to study the behavior of particles in order to be able to predict their motion and avoid them as they travel to the goal. During the game, players have to budget their energy use as they grapple with gravity, electric forces, and the effects of Newton's laws of motion. The game is an excellent primer for younger students just learning about forces and how things move. Older students can use the game as a model in their learning of the physics of motion.

To play, click on one side of the green particle to give it a push and navigate your way to the goal. Click next to other particles to help clear a path. But be careful—the closer you click to a particle, the faster it goes. Try to be patient and not to click too many times, or you’ll run out of energy. There are 70 levels to the game, each of which takes approximately 1 minute to play. After Level 70, players can enter “infinity mode” that has an infinite number of levels.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Have students explore Newton's second law of motion through the movie's Experiment or another investigation that ties into your objectives.
  2. Talk with students about the second law of motion that they just explored. What are Newton's other laws of motion? What else do students know about gravity and force? You may want to use a KWL chart to record and organize students' ideas.
  3. Play the Newton's Laws of Motion movie for the class and ask students to listen for information about the three laws of motion. You may want to turn on the closed captioning to support students' comprehension.
  4. Replay the movie, this time pausing it periodically so students can take notes, discuss, or suggest information to be added to your KWL chart.
  5. Tell students they will have the chance to see Newton's laws of motions in action and experiment with the laws themselves through an online game called Impulse. We recommend pairing students up and allowing them to figure out how the game works via trial-and-error, but you can also project the game for the class to see and model game play strategies if needed.
  6. Facilitate students' discussions about game play strategies, encouraging them to explain their thinking to their partners and wrk together to determine the best way to move the particles.
  7. Instruct students to take a break from game play after they have completed level 5, and reflect either through a partner discussion or in writing. How are Newton's laws of motion evident in the game? How can they use what they know about the laws of motion and gravity to strategize for more complex levels of game play?
  8. After reflecting, allow each pair of students to choose whether they'd like to continue playing with their partner or explore the game independently. Provide 10-20 more minutes of time for game play.
  9. Use the game quiz to assess what students learned through the game. You may want to provide time later in your unit of study for the class to revisit the game and attempt to beat higher levels using the additional knowledge they have about laws of motion.