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Physical Science Units and Lessons for Grades 4-6
Life Science
Grades 4-6
Physical Science
Grades 4-6
Earth and Space Science
Grades 7-9
Grades 7-9
Leaf with water droplets
NASA shuttle launching into space
Artist rendition of a Mars rover

Aeronautics Unit

Lesson Description Prep Time Lesson Time Needed Complexity
Air Foils Students investigate how an airfoil creates lift. Design an airfoil and construct a model of an airfoil.
Keywords: airfoils, wings, flight, smart skies, space math, x-plane, wright, propulsion, forces of flight, Bernoulli
2 Hours 2 Hours Moderate
Bag Balloon Students construct a working model of a hot air balloon.
Keywords: temperature, heat, air, gas, lift
3 Hours 2 Hours Basic
Bernoulli and More Bernoulli Six easy and simple experiments that explain Bernoulli's principle.
Keywords: aerodynamics, Bernoulli's principle
1 Hour 1 Hour Basic
Controlling the Plane Students construct a working model straw glider, identify the major parts of an airplane and experimentally determine how the ailerons, elevators and rudders control a glider.
Keywords: aeronautics, parts of a plane
1 Hour 2 Hours Moderate
Designing Aircraft in Five Easy Steps - It's a Challenge! Students learn how NASA engineers develop and test experimental aircraft to solve a specific problem by using the engineering design process. 45 Minutes 1-1.5 Hours Basic
Fluttering Fun, Point of Balance Activities designed to learn an object's center of gravity and how it can be changed.
Keywords: center of gravity, weight and balance
1 Hour 1 Hour Basic
Four Forces of Flight A game that helps students learn the terms associated with flight: lift, thrust, drag and weight.
Keywords: aeronautics
1 Hour 1 Hour Basic
Jet Propulsion Build a model to demonstrate how thrust is created in a jet engine.
Keywords: thrust, engine
2 Hours 2 Hours Advanced

Forces and Motion Unit

Lesson Description Prep Time Lesson Time Needed Complexity
Danger: Space Debris Activities designed to examine the physics and dangers of natural and man-made debris traveling through space.
Keywords: Newton's Laws of Motion, force, friction, energy, momentum
45 Minutes 4 Hours Moderate
Inertia and Friction Activities examine the relationship between mass, inertia, acceleration, force, friction and speed.
Keywords: Newton's laws, mass, inertia, acceleration, force, friction, thrust, staging, rocket design
1 Hour 2.5 Hours Moderate
Thrust, Air Pressure Rockets and Newton's Third Law Activities designed to examine thrust and Newton's Third Law applied to rockets and cars propelled by air pressure.
Keywords: thrust, rocket design, Newton's third law
1 Hour 4 Hours Moderate

Gravity Unit

Lesson Description Prep Time Lesson Time Needed Complexity
Fighting Gravity - A Matter of Balance Activities highlight what must be done to overcome effects of gravity for Earth orbit.
Keywords: gravity, center of mass, center of gravity, balance, weight
1 Hour 2 Hours Basic
Gravity Games Activities designed to demonstrate gravity's role in recreation.
Keywords: friction, gravity, inertia, energy, microgravity, marble, toy, motion, sports, games, center of mass, center of gravity
1.5 Hours 9 Hours Moderate
Heavy Duty Topics Activities highlight the difference between mass and weight.
Keywords: gravity, inertia, weight, mass, period, periodic motion, center of mass, balance
1 Hour 7.5 Hours Moderate

Properties of Matter

Lesson Description Prep Time Lesson Time Needed Complexity
Composite Materials Students examine several samples of carbon fiber materials. Measure at least one sample and determine its volume. Calculate a sample's density.
Keywords: liquid, solid, gas, density, chemicals, matter, properties, alloys, cube, mass metals
20 Minutes 1-2 Hours Moderate
Nature of Salt Students examine the molecular structure of salt and the elements that compose it.
Keywords: matter, properties, ionic, molecular, compounds
10 Minutes 45 Minutes Basic
Reaction Rates Activities to help students discover conditions that make a reaction proceed faster or slower. Students demonstrate how increasing the surface area of a chemical increases its reaction rate.
Keywords: chemical reactions, antacid, gas, liquid
10 Minutes 1 Hour Basic
Space Weather Lesson explores the origins, processes and risks associated with solar radiation including how it travels through the solar system, affects the Earth's magnetosphere and poses a threat to astronauts and spacecraft.
Keywords: radiation, hidden, exposure, magnetometer, magnetic fields, magnetic storms, solar storms, solar eruptions
4 Hours 2-3 Days Advanced
States of Matter Construct a rocket powered by pressurized gas created from a chemical reaction between a solid and a liquid.
Keywords: density, mass, atoms, molecules, heat, spaceflight, weight, solutions, rockets, pressure, gas
2 Hours 4 Hours Moderate
Student Glovebox Students design their own investigation of the characteristics of various liquids.
Keywords: liquids, box, experiment
4 Hours 4 Hours Moderate

Waves and Optics Unit

Lesson Description Prep Time Lesson Time Needed Complexity
Making Use of the EM Spectrum Activities designed to demonstrate methods of using the electromagnetic spectrum to learn about our universe.
Keywords: reflection, refraction, diffraction, medium, passive detection, waves, light, magnifier
1 Hour 2.5 Hours Basic
Manipulating Waves Activities designed to demonstrate methods of manipulating waves and applications of that manipulation.
Keywords: reflection, refraction, diffraction, magnification, spectrum, medium, interference
1 Hour 6.5 Hours Moderate
Wave Measurements Activities guide the students to explore the relationship between frequency and wavelength and apply it to explain the Doppler effect.
Keywords: Doppler effect, wavelength, frequency, energy, rotation, relative motion
1 Hour 3.5 Hours Moderate

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Page Last Updated: July 28th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator