Speed and Force Lesson Plan: Acceleration Rotations

Submitted by: Diane Harold

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In this lesson plan adaptable for grades 3-8, students use BrainPOP resources to observe, calculate, and define acceleration. They will also collect and organize data, as well as plot coordinates and interpret graphs.

Students will:

  1. Collect and organize data
  2. Plot coordinates and interpret graph
  3. Observe, calculate, and define acceleration


  • Access to BrainPOP
  • Masking tape
  • Meter stick
  • Space to run
  • Colored pencils
  • Ruler
  • Graph paper
  • Notebooks
  • Stopwatches (three per group of five)


speed; velocity; acceleration


Preview the movies and features, planning where you'd like to pause and facilitate discussion. On day 3, split the class into groups of 5 and familiarize students with how to use a stopwatch (which buttons to press to start, stop, and reset the stopwatch.)

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Have groups discuss the difference between acceleration and velocity. They may jot down important definitions on the Activity page.
  2. Allow each group to present their results. What conclusions can they draw about acceleration from their experiment?
  3. On Day 4, have students share the data they collected within their groups. As a group, have them discuss how they could show their data using the graph paper. Have them graph their results.
  4. After the watches are stopped, the data collector should record the runner’s time at the 5, 10, and 15 meter mark in their notebook.
  5. As soon as the stopwatch students are ready, the student at the 0-meter mark will lower his/her arm (the signal) and start running. The other three students will start their stopwatches at the same exact time when they see the signal.
  6. The students at the starting line will hold their arm up in the air while the other three students ready their stopwatches at the 5, 10, and 15-meter marks.
  7. Rotate through until each student has completed each role.
  8. Arrange groups so that one student will stand at the 0 meter start mark, one at 5 meters, one at 10 meters, and finally one at 15 meters. The fifth student will record data for the group.
  9. On Day 3, assemble students, along with their materials, in an area where each group has enough space to run 15 meters. Have each group measure out 15 meters, using masking tape to mark the 0, 5,10, and 15-meter marks.
  10. On Day 2, watch BrainPOP’s Acceleration movie.
  11. Have groups discuss the difference between acceleration and speed. Select, or allow students to choose, one of BrainPOP’s Acceleration Activities to complete.
  12. Allow students to take the Quiz as a whole class on in groups, depending on the computer setup in your classroom.
  13. On Day 1, watch BrainPOP’s Force movie.
  14. Have students complete BrainPOP’s Acceleration Quiz and read the Acceleration FYIs out loud or within their groups.

Extension Activity:

Students can use a spreadsheet program like Excel to graph data.
Students can enter data into a graphing calculator.
Students can watch BrainPOP’s Newton's Laws of Motion movie and complete the activity or quiz.