Forces and Motion | Electricity and Magnetism

Dan Smolski

Classroom Activity for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

The mass of an object and the gravity force acting on that object.

The purpose of this activity is to get pupils thinking and talking about the difference between mass and force.

What to Prepare

  • some copies of the Dan Smolski fictional passage (see below)

What Happens During this Activity

This activity makes a demand on literacy skills and encourages dialogue in groups. Pupils are given a short passage to read. The questions that follow should be tackled individually, then shared with partners and then larger groups.

Dan Smolski: American footballer and astronaut

Dan Smolski played American football at high school. He was always chosen for the school team because he was so difficult to tackle on account of his size. Dan was big for his age. At age 15 Dan weighed 700 newton.

His height and broad shoulders made him as big as the PE teacher. They both had a mass of about 70 kilogram and Dan's mass has not changed to this very day.

After studying mathematics at university, Dan joined the US Marines and eventually Dan was selected for special astronaut training. He had always wanted to travel into space.

Dan landed on the Moon in 2025 and became one of the first members of the Moon Marauders American football team, which plays all of its games in the special lunar astrodome constructed in 2021.

Questions for discussion:

What was the gravity force acting on Dan Smolski before he blasted off for the Moon?

What was Dan's mass at this time?

Explain why Dan was so difficult to stop on the American football pitch.

When on the Moon, did Dan have the same mass as before?

What was the gravity force acting on Dan on the Moon?

When Dan played American football on the Moon, was he easier or harder to tackle? Explain your answer.

Dan was always concerned about his waistline. The bathroom scales showed a smaller weight on the Moon. Did his trousers still fit?


Download the support sheet / student worksheet for this activity.

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