Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Crash Course in Newton's Laws

Image by Marcel Langthim on Pixabay
When I started teaching, my assignment was 4 sections of physical science; one of my favorite lessons was the science of seat belts. We used Newton's First Law as a starting point for trying to convince kids to wear seat belts by presenting data and information about car crashes. The highlight for me was helping kids discover in the lab how fast a car could be going when it crashes and they could stop themselves from hitting the dashboard without wearing a seat belt. For most students, this speed is around 5 mph. Several years ago I had the opportunity to teach physical science again. When I reached for my favorite car crash materials, they looked so out-of-date that I hesitated to use some of them.

This week I saw a resource that could help teach this topic. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offers free "videos, demonstrations and teacher-developed, classroom-tested activities aligned to the latest standards bring crash safety STEM applications to grade 5-12 classrooms." The eleven lessons range in time from 35 minutes to two weeks and include everything from simple experiments to detailed projects. The experiments look engaging and informative.

In addition to the lessons, there are two award-winning films on Understanding Car Crashes and some additional videos on things like teen driving concerns and how cars can avoid a crash. All of the lessons are aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and the 5E Instructional Model. I love the idea of teaching this material to kids in their freshmen year of high school because they will probably get a driver's license in the year or so following physical science, so it is a timely bit of convincing for using good driving skills. Take a look at these free resources and see what you think. You can provide feedback to the IIHS here.

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