Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Buckle Up

Physical Science

Brittany Bowens | Published: May 18th, 2022 by K20 Center


This lesson is best taught after students have already explored how speed, velocity, and mass determine momentum in terms of Newton’s 1st and 2nd laws. Here, students will take those principles and determine Newton’s 3rd law, including what occurs when two objects act upon one another. Students will learn that, for every action, there is a reaction. Then, they will find ways to reduce momentum (the action) when a collision occurs (the reaction). This is a multimodality lesson, which means it includes face-to-face, online, and hybrid versions of the lesson. The attachments also include a downloadable Common Cartridge file, which can be imported into a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Canvas or eKadence. The cartridge includes interactive student activities and teacher's notes.

Essential Question(s)

What happens when two objects interact with each other? What important constraints can help reduce changes occurring on an object in motion?



Students develop an initial model, sharing similarities and differences among a group of peers. Then, they determine the law that applies to the models.


Students review Newton's third law, which is shown through real-world activities. Each student chooses an image that depicts Newton's third law and adds a hashtag to accompany the image. Then, each student chooses a peer's image and explains how it represents Newton's third law.


Students annotate an article that connects Newton's three laws to safety measures used in collisions.


Students construct a model that helps reduce the momentum on an object(s) in a collision.


Students submit a Safety First Engineering Presentation and share their findings.

Instructional Formats

The term "Multimodality" refers to the ability of a lesson to be offered in more than one modality (i.e. face-to-face, online, blended). This lesson has been designed to be offered in multiple formats, while still meeting the same standards and learning objectives. Though fundamentally the same lesson, you will notice that the different modalities may require the lesson to be approached differently. Select the modality that you are interested in to be taken to the section of the course designed for that form of instruction.



  • Set-up that allows videos and PowerPoints to be played for everyone to view (for the Engage and Explain phases)

  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Draw an Initial Model (attached; one per student)

  • Engage Activity (attached; one per student)

  • Discussion Group Slides (Online) (attached)

  • Pick a Pic (Online) (attached)

  • Padlet

  • The Physics of Safety Article Explain (attached; one per student)

  • Safety First Engineering Instructions (attached; one per student)

  • Safety First Engineering Presentation Rubric (attached; one per student)

  • Safety First Engineering Trials (attached; one per student)

  • Maker Cart 2.0 from TeacherGeek (if purchased or available)

  • 1.2 m PAScar Dynamics System from PASCO (if purchased or available)

  • PASCO Smart Carts (if purchased or available)



55 Minute(s)

Use the attached Lesson Slides to follow along with the lesson. Begin with slide 3. Briefly, read aloud the essential questions: What happens when two objects interact with each other? What important constraints can help reduce changes occurring on an object in motion? Then, move to slide 4 and read the objectives.

Invite students to watch two video clips. Before beginning the first clip, ask students to identify common concepts in both videos as they watch. These concepts should be familiar, as students should have learned about them in previous units on Newton's laws. Go to slide 5 and play the video compilation "3+ Minutes of People Walking into Glass Compilation," starting at the 2:50 mark. Play the video from the 2:50 mark to the 3:17 mark. Then, move to slide 6 to show the video "Second Chance."

Go to slide 7. After viewing both videos, distribute a copy of the attached Draw an Initial Model handout to each student. Students should use the handout to draw an initial model of the forces they witnessed through the videos. Next, sort students into groups of 3-4.

Have students share their initial models and summaries with their group members. Have them record similarities and differences among their drawings. As a group, they should create an explanation of what is occurring and to which of Newton's law it applies. Have each group share out their explanations.



20 Minute(s)

Work with students to determine an agreed-upon explanation for what they saw happen in the videos. Then, move to slide 8. Explain that for every action there is a reaction, which is referred to as Newton's third law. Have students contemplate some other scenarios in which they've seen the same type of collision.

Go to slide 9. Invite students, using the Pick a Pic strategy, to find an image that shows a reaction similar to the ones we saw in the videos. Have students add their pictures to Padlet and add a hashtag to the picture that describes what it is about (for example, "#carcrash").

Next, introduce students to the Gallery Walk strategy. Invite students to take part in a virtual Gallery Walk of their classmates' pictures. Students should choose a picture that hasn't been selected by another student yet, add a hashtag caption, and explain how it reflects Newton's third law. Allow about 15 minutes for students to do so.



45 Minute(s)

Go to slide 10. Introduce students to the C.R.U.S.H. and Smush strategy. Distribute a copy of the attached The Physics of Car Safety article to each student, inviting them to C.R.U.S.H and Smush the article according to the following directions:

  • Circle any new vocabulary. Look up each definition and, in the margin of the reading, record a sentence that uses each circled word correctly.

  • Read the article using your knowledge of the new vocabulary words.

  • Underline the vocabulary you already know.

  • Star the main ideas throughout the reading.

  • Highlight evidence that supports the main idea. (Note that students should not highlight every line after the main idea. They should select key points that support the main ideas.)

  • Summarize and condense (smush) the article into your own words. (Students' summaries should take each idea and pull all the evidence together to explain the article in 3-5 sentences.)

Give students about 40 minutes to do so. Once completed, have students share their summaries and then hand in their annotations for evaluation.



120 Minute(s)

Go to slide 13. Invite students to create a collision model of their own.

Distribute to each student a copy of the attached Safety First Engineering Instructions handout and Safety First Engineering Presentation Rubric.

Invite each student to create three trials for a collision model of their choice. The goal for each trial is to improve safety precautions with each trial. Place students into groups of 3-4.

Once ready to begin, guide students through the following steps of the experiment. You may choose to have students record videos of each trial, take before and after photos, or sketch and explain each trial on the attached Safety First Engineering Trials handout.

  • In the first trial, ask students to determine the effects of the collision when no safety precautions are taken. For example, a learner may put a Barbie doll (the object) in a toy car without a seatbelt, and then create a collision between the car and a wall (or another car, etc.). Another learner might drop an egg with no safety restraints or cushions to the ground.

  • In the second trial, ask students to add a safety precaution and determine what impact it has on the momentum of the object.

In the third trial, ask students to improve the safety precautions and determine how it decreased the momentum of the impact on the object.



10 Minute(s)

Go to slide 14. Invite students to create a presentation of their own. This may take the form of a Prezi, PowerPoint, a trifold presentation, or a video or audio recording using the attached Safety First Engineering Instructions packet.

Each student's presentation should include the following:

  • Introduction

  • Objectives

  • List of materials used throughout the experiment

  • Procedure used to design and construct the model (including pictures)

  • Explanation of all three trials, especially relating to what the student learned about reducing the momentum of the object in a collision

  • A completed version of the data table below (also provided on page 3 of the Safety First Engineering Instructions packet)

  • A summary of the data table; this summary should incorporate learned terminology and should explain the role of speed, momentum, acceleration, and force.

Give students a specific date by which they should submit their presentations. (If using Canvas, have students upload and submit to Canvas directly.) You may also have students review the Safety First Engineering Presentation Rubric before they begin.

Allow students time to work on their presentations.

Once projects are finished and submitted, go over proper presentation etiquette with students before they present. This includes discussing attire, eye contact, posture, and projection. Finally, have students present their projects to the class.



  • Examine and explain evidence of Newton's laws.

  • Identify real-world problems with solutions that require an understanding of the direction of energy by forces.

  • Carry out an investigation showing that the more time in which a collision occurs will decrease the force acting on an object.

  • Design constraints that minimize (reduce) the force on an object during a collision.