Lesson 5 Speed Back Assignment Discovery

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Simply Machines - A Rube Goldberg project(T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)

This project is an excellent addition to any simple machines unit! Teachers have the option to tailor the assignment to fit their student's grade/ability level. For some of my classes, I require them only to draw the design labeled from start to finish. In advanced classes, students are challenged to design and build the device. Science Olympiad offers a Mission Possible event that requires students to take this idea even further with a host of requirements and limitations.

The task to complete can be as simple as turning on a light bulb or as complex as fixing a meal. The students must use at least 3 different types of simple machines to accomplish the task. Each step (minimum of 10) must be labeled and described from start (a) to finish (b).

Background: Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist (New York Post) that became famous for drawing very complicated machines that performed very simple tasks. A typical Rube Goldberg device could not perform a job as straightforward as turning on a faucet without the assistance of pulleys, fulcrums, mousetraps, cables, and gears. By the time the cartoonist retired, the term “Rube Goldbergian” had been enshrined in the language to describe anything characterized by excess complexity. For more information, check out the Official Rube Goldberg site.

Student Worksheet: Simply Machines

Also try Simple Machines Scavenger Hunt - Students explore several websites to learn about simple machines. The first page may be used by itself for a shorter lesson or combined with the second page for a longer one. All the sites are listed on Physics page the Kid Zone.

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Newton's Challenge - (T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL) 

Students investigate all three of Newton's Laws of Motion during this lab activity that involves classroom and online activities. Check out the presentation file for more details about the labs. 

Student Worksheets: Newton's Challenge Lab (pdf)  & Newton's Challenge (Class Presentation)


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Speed Machines(T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)

In this activity, students relate speed to some of the fastest machines on Earth. Students solve problems related to fast cars, boats, trains, and airplanes. The second half of the activity related speed to their own world as they computer the time it would take for each vehicle to travel a specific distance (i.e. from Havana, IL to Springfield, IL.)

Student Worksheet: Speed Machines (pdf)

 Also available ... Thanks to Jennifer Bertolino for sharing her cube version of the Speed Machines worksheet. It is a PowerPoint file, so you can edit the faces of the cube to make your own challenges.

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Speed Challenge(T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)

Challenge your students with this fun activity exploring speed! Students work together to collect data related to distance and time for four tasks: hopping, walking backwards, walking (regular rate), and speed walking. They use the data to calculate speeds for each task and solve related problems. We also discuss the variables that would affect their experiment and determine if their results are accurate and reliable.

Student Worksheet: Speed Challenge (pdf)


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Bubble Gum Physics(T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)

My students love this experiment involving bubble gum, speed, and acceleration. Since gum is not allowed in our school, the kids love the opportunity to chew gum in class and learn at the same time.

For the first part of the experiment, students use a timer to determine the number of "chomps" they can make in 10 seconds. The data they collect is used to calculate their chomping speed and make predictions for different amounts of time, such as 5 minutes or 1 day. During the second part of the experiment, students collect data about their chomping power and use the information to investigate speed as well as acceleration. For an added challenge, I allow the students to create an experiment involving bubble gum and give them the opportunity to investigate.

Student Worksheet: Bubble Gum Physics (pdf)

Also try the Bubble Gum Trivia Challenge (pdf) - Includes an answer key!

Also explore Invention of Bubble Gum (Facts/info/links) -http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/story084.htm


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Hot Wheelin' Physics(T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)

During this lab, students investigate the motion of toy cars. They may use Hot Wheel cars, wind-up cars, or remote control vehicles. To perform the tests, create a "race track" and position five students armed with stop watches at various points along the track. I use a 5 meter track with students at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 meter positions. As the car passes each point, the students should record the time in their data charts.

Once the three trials are complete, we head back to the classroom and use the data collected to analyze the speed of the vehicle between various points and overall speed. Students use the data to create graphs and analyze the reliability of their experiment. The main challenges we face during this lab are keeping the car on the track, making sure it travels the complete distance, and making accurate time readings. These are points for discussion as we determine if our tests are reliable.

Student Worksheet: Hot Wheelin' Physics (pdf)

Also try - Speed and Acceleration Practice (pdf) - A worksheet with problems related to speed and acceleration!


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Acceleration Lab(T. Tomm, Havana Junior High, Havana, IL)

What is acceleration? Before making accelerometers (see worksheet), I asked students for a definition of acceleration and gave them a mini quiz on acceleration that consisted of examples of acceleration and deceleration. Instead of going over the answers right away, I had the students hold on to the quizzes until after they had a chance to experiment with their homemade accelerometers.

We used index cards, string, and washers to make simple accelerometers. I gave the students time to experiment with their new devices in the hallway. They were able to observe that the washer moved when they slowed down or increased their speed as well as when they changed directions. After they had mastered keeping the accelerometer steady so they would be sure to make accurate measurements (observations) at all times, I told them to take the accelerometers home and experiment some more. They had to write down 2-3 observations to share with their classmates.

At the start of the next class, the students had a chance to share their observations in small groups (3-4 minutes). I asked one person in each group to share a few of the observations with the entire class. Many of the students observed the same things (usually related to a car or bus ride), but some of the kids took the assignment to heart and tried the accelerometers with a swivel chair, climbing stairs, etc. After the discussion, students had an opportunity to "fix" their quizzes before we went over the correct answers.

Student Worksheet: Accelerometers (pdf)


The Wave Excercise(Marc Bonem, Santa Fe, NM, 2011)
Explore wave motion and related concepts with this human version of the "wave". 

Activity Directions:  Wave Excercise (pdf)

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Lessons 5
Lewis and Clark and Native Americans, Part I

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Identify the structure of the Dakota Nation including the Seven Council Fires;
  • Explore the relationship between the Corps of Discovery and the Lakota;
  • Examine the conflict between the two parties from varied points of view.


This lesson correlates to the national McREL standards located online at http://www.mcrel.org/

United States History

Standard 9: Understands the United States territorial expansion between 1801 and 1861, and how it affected relations with external powers and Native Americans.


NOTE: Adobe Acrobat. Is required to download activity/quiz sheets.

Time Needed

One or two 45-minute class periods


The Dakota were divided into seven divisions and joined in an alliance called the Seven Council Fires. The Seven Council Fires included the Teton, who are the Lakota, the Ihanktonwan, and Ihanktonna, known as the Yankton Nakota and Mdewankanton, Wahpeton, Sisseton, and Wapekute the Santee Dakota. Spoken dialects were Lakota, Nakota and Dakota. (See the Lesson 5 Student Activity Sheet: Political Organization of the Seven Council Fires.) The seven Dakota tribes lived in Western Minnesota in the 1700's.

During this time, the Lakota became so numerous, that seven subdivisions of the Teton Lakota arose and moved back onto the Plains. The Yankton Nakota, the Ihanktonwan and Ihanktonwanna were geographically located between the Santee

Dakota and Teton Lakota. The Santee Dakota remained in Minnesota. Geographically, the tribes moved apart because of economic reasons and to defend their frontiers.

Teton is a collective term that identifies the Lakota. The Tetons were made up of seven subdivisions. These subdivisions included the Oglala, Sicangu, Hunkpapa, Miniconju, Sihasapa, Oonhenunpa, and itazipco; it is important to note that despite many cultural similarities, each subdivision has qualities unique to its group. For example, a music study done on the Standing Rock Reservation using the song of the Hunkpapa and putting them in a book called Teton Sioux Music would not be clear representation of all Teton music because other Teton tribes may have their own versions of the same music. (Powers, p.13)

According to Royal B. Hassrick in the The Sioux , there is no record of when the Seven Council Fires organized. The Sioux, also known as the Dakota, regarded the tribe as seven united divisions, never as separate entities. In practice, each division of the Sioux Nation was an independent system capable of functioning independently of the tribe, and each had a headmen or Chief. Yet, each division was under the authority of four chiefs, known as Shirt Wearers. (Hassrick, p.7)

The entire Dakota Nation assembled each summer to hold a council. The annual meeting symbolized the cohesiveness of the nation. All gathered at a great camp to renew old acquaintances, to decide political matters, and to have a Sun Dance. The Sun Dance was the ultimate of spiritual expression. During the annual assembly, the four great leaders of the Nation met deliberated. They formulated national policy and sat in judgment of offenses against national unity and security. They approved or derived actions taken by the headmen of the separate divisions during the past year.


Hassrick, Royal B. (1982). The Sioux. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman.
Powers, William. Oglala Religion. University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln.
Sneve, Virginia Driving Hawk. (1975). They Led a Nation: The Sioux Chiefs. Bevet Press, Inc.: Sioux Falls.
Walker, James R. Lakota Society. University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln.

Helpful resources include the Archive, Native Americans, and Inside the Corps sections of this Web site.

Teaching Strategy

  1. Explain to students that during the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Corps of Discovery traveled through many places that although new to them, had been inhabited by others, primarily Native Americans, for centuries. Show students on a map where the Dakota lived. (See Background Information above or the map in the Native American section of this Web site.) One group they encountered were the Lakota (sometimes referred to as Sioux), a tribe that had established territorial boundaries and zealously protected these lands. Misunderstandings and hostilities arose between Lewis and Clark and the Lakota.

  2. Distribute copies of the Lesson 5 Student Activity Sheet (or make an overhead transparency) and the Lesson 5 Quiz to each student. Using the Background Material section of this lesson as a guide, explain the organization of the Seven Council Fires. Have students listen carefully for the answers to the Lesson 5 Quiz and fill this information in on their worksheets.

  3. Show students the segment of Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery that tells of a tense confrontation between the members of the expedition and the Lakota people (Part I, 00:39:25-00:48:45).

    Before starting the clip, tell the students that when the Corps of Discovery entered Lakota territory, the tribe was the most powerful force on the Great Plains. Ask the students to listen for what the Corps of Discovery said to the Lakota chiefs during their meeting and to watch carefully for what happened afterwards.

  4. Divide students into groups of three or four. Have some groups discuss the confrontation presented in the video from the perspective of the Corps of Discovery, and the other groups from the perspective of the Lakota. Instruct each group to identify why the Corps or the Lakota reacted or behaved as they did. Students should be prepared to justify their ideas.

  5. Pair groups representing each side of the conflict, and have the groups take turns explaining their point of view. As the first group presents, the other group should listen attentively and not interrupt. Then the second group should restate what they have just heard to confirm understanding. The first group should then either confirm or clarify the restatement of their position. Once it is apparent that the first group's perspective has been clearly communicated and understood, the groups should reverse roles.

  6. Debrief in a discussion with the entire class. How might the conflict between the two parties been avoided or reduced? What does the conflict suggest about the explorers’ attitudes and assumptions about the territories they visited? What does the interaction suggest about Native Americans’ knowledge of explorers and people outside of their ethnic circles?

Online Resources

    Circle of Stories


    Seth Eastman: Painting the Dakota

    Matters of Race

    The West

    See Online Resources in this site’s Archive section for additional information about Native Americans

Assessment Recommendations

It is recommended that student quizzes be collected and graded. Students could be evaluated on their level of participation and cooperation in the group activity, and on the ideas and supporting details presented by their group.


Students can:

  • debate whether the Corps of Discovery should have crossed the Great Plains.

  • investigate the "Shirt Wearers" or the four Dakota nation leaders their.

  • research leaders of the Dakota nation, such as Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Spotted Tail, Little Crow, Gall, and Crazy Horse, noting, for example, their leadership style. challenges they encountered to protect their land, and unique accomplishments.

  • create a mural that visually tells the story of the confrontation between the Corps and the Lakota.

  • discuss the role of the media in creating and/or perpetuating stereotypes and perceptions about the Lakota people and other Native Americans.

  • study the present-day status of the Lakota people and/or other Native American groups.

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