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20 October 2014
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Forces in action - lesson plan

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Toy truck

  1. To learn to ask questions that can be investigated scientifically.
  2. To know to plan a fair test by changing one factor while keeping other factors the same.
  3. To use measurements to draw conclusions and use scientific knowledge to explain them.
  4. To understand that friction, including air resistance, is a force that slows moving objects.

National Curriculum

Sc1, 2a, 2d, 2j, 2l; Sc4, 2b, 2c, 2e.


  • Online activities:
    • Bitesize forces in action section: play, quiz
  • Learning Zone Broadband Class Clips:
  • Worksheets:
  • Other resources:
    • Investigation process cards (question, prediction, hypothesis, fair test, results, conclusion, evaluation) for each group
    • Computers (one for each group or pair)
    • Interactive whiteboard

You will need Adobe Acrobat reader to access the PDF files. BBC Webwise has a complete guide to downloading and installing Adobe Acrobat reader.

Teaching activities


  1. Give each group a set of investigation cards.
  2. Order the cards according to the sequence in an investigation.
  3. Discuss each section, focusing on the meaning of a fair test.
  4. Give the children examples of scientific questions related to areas of science they have studied recently (eg What temperature is best for germinating mustard seeds?).
  5. Give the children a list of factors for each question (eg number of seeds, temperature, light, amount of water) and ask them which factor they would change and which ones they would keep the same to make the investigation fair.
  6. Ask the children what they would measure or observe.


  1. Explain to the children that they are going to investigate a scientific question about forces.
  2. Open the Bitesize forces in action activity on an interactive whiteboard.
  3. Show the children how to set the truck moving, alter the initial gradient of the track and add parachutes or weights.
  4. Brainstorm scientific questions that could be investigated (focusing on 'Does ... effect ...?')
  5. Choose one question and ask the children how they would investigate this to make it a fair test. Which factor would they change and which ones would they keep the same? What would they measure or observe?
  6. Arrange the children in pairs or groups, with a computer for each group.
  7. Allow each group to decide which question to investigate. Ask them to think about how they will carry out a fair test and predict what will happen.
  8. Give the lower ability group a table in which to record their results. Ask the middle ability group to create a two-part conclusion and the higher ability group to create a two-part conclusion that relates to the hypothesis.
  9. Encourage the children to investigate a second factor after having investigated the first.


Give the children pictures to draw on the force arrows. Which combination of factors will make the car go the furthest? Test the predictions.


Ask the children to watch Forces in action and to record as many forces as possible. Alternatively, ask them to complete the forces in action worksheet (PDF 923KB) or the Bitesize forces in action quiz.


Ask the children to imagine that a laboratory has been set up to investigate parachute designs. What different questions could be investigated and how could they be tested?

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