Unit Overview

In this unit about Newton’s Laws, learners will help Mosa solve the mystery of why Ms. Newton’s Supermarket seems haunted. Through this video mystery, learners will discover that even though an event may seem inexplicable, there may be natural laws behind it. Learners will conduct investigations to discover the impact of force and mass on motion, before creating a new shopping cart that can withstand collisions. 

Lesson Overview

Medium 1s 640Solve: Haunted Supermarket Mystery + Vocabulary Mind Map

Learners will contextualize vocabulary relating to laws of motion before helping Mosa Mack solve the mystery of the haunted supermarket. (80 minutes)

Medium cycling bicycle riding sport 38296Make: Create-Your-Own Custom “Force & Motion” Demo

Design an experiment that demonstrates the impact of force and mass on an object’s motion. (200 minutes)

Medium shopping cart 2614015 960 720Engineer: Build a Rube Goldberg Machine with Requirements

Students will design, construct, and test a new shopping cart that can withstand collisions and keep precious cargo safe. Students pitch their idea in a Shark Tank setting to determine whose design gets funded. (250 minutes)

Next Generations Science Standards

Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.
Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object.
Conduct an investigation and evaluate the experimental design to provide evidence that fields exist between objects exerting forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact.

Science & Engineering Practices

  • Analyzing and Interpreting Data
  • Communicating Findings/Design (Oral Presentation)
  • Connections to Nature of Science
  • Constructing Explanations or Arguments From Evidence
  • Designing Solutions
  • Developing and Using Models
  • Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
  • Scientific Knowledge is Based on Empirical Evidence

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
  • Definitions of Energy
  • Forces and Motion
  • Relationship Between Energy and Forces

Cross Cutting Concepts

  • Connections to Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science
  • Energy and Matter
  • Influence of Science, Engineering, and Technology on Society and the Natural World
  • Stability and Change
  • Systems and System Models

Inquiry Scale

  • Each lesson in the unit has an Inquiry Scale that provides directions on how to implement the lesson at the level that works best for you and your students.
  • “Level 1” is the most teacher-driven, and recommended for students in 4th-5th grades. “Level 4” is the most student-driven, and recommended for students in 7th-8th grades.
  • For differentiation within the same grade or class, use different inquiry levels for different groups of students who may require additional support or an extra challenge.

Common Misconceptions

  • Learners often think of friction as its own separate concept rather than an example of a force acting on objects in motion. During the animation, emphasize this.
  • Learners initially have trouble understanding that objects in motion will stay in motion unless a force acts upon it because gravity and friction are not visual phenomena that they can see. It helps to explain within the context of space, showing videos if necessary.
  • Learners often think of the word “force” as something deliberate, in accordance with their life experience, so emphasize in the animation that even things like a stationary wall are considered a force.
  • Students may think that the outcome of every collision is the same. Emphasize to students that the strength of a collision depends on the mass, direction and speed of objects that collide.


    • Force
    • Motion
    • Friction
    • Gravity

Content Expert

  • Hans C. von Baeyer
    Chancellor Professor of Physics, Emeritus College of William and Mary


  • Powerpoints for Make and Design
  • Vocabulary Cards
  • Vocabulary Mind Map
  • Solve Student Handout
  • Make Student Handout
  • Design Student Handout