Forces and Motion | Properties of Matter

Thinking about actions to take: Contact Forces

Teaching Guidance for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

There's a good chance you could improve your teaching if you were to:

Try these

  • Building explicit connections between the actions of animate and inanimate environments on an object
  • Building in explicitly the steps from physical situation to the forces acting on the object
  • Modelling how you come to expect a warp force to be acting
  • Discussing the placement of arrows
  • Focusing on the physical reasons for expecting a force to be acting – e.g. the bombardment by particles
  • Sharing tangible examples of frictional forces
  • Arranging for children to experience drag forces in air

Teacher Tip: Work through the Physics Narrative to find these lines of thinking worked out and then look in the Teaching Approaches for some examples of activities.

Avoid these

  • Using friction as a blanket term, without reference to its physical origins
  • Treating contact forces exerted by inanimate objects as obvious
  • Stating, without sharing the appropriate experiences that give the statements meaning
  • Being drawn into discussing the details of the drag forces

Teacher Tip: These difficulties are distilled from: the research findings; the practice of well-connected teachers with expertise; issues intrinsic to representing the physics well.

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