Strand IV
Use Scientific Knowledge from the Physical Sciences in Real-World Contexts


Science/Strand IV
Content Standard 3
All students will describe how things around us move and explain why things move as they do; demonstrate and explain how we control the motions of objects; and relate motion to energy and energy conversions. (Motion of Objects)


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 3
High School


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 3/High School
Benchmark 1
Analyze patterns of force in the operation of complex machines.

Benchmark Clarification

A machine is used to change direction and/or amount of force.

The force that comes out of a machine may be larger or smaller than the force that was put into the machine, depending on the distance through which the forces are expected to act.

Students will:

  • Investigate the forces in machines
  • Compare variations in the amount and direction of force applied with the motion that results
  • Determine that machines change the direction, amount, and distance through which a force acts

Key Concept / Real World Context / Instructional Example / Assessment Example / Resources


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 3/High School/Benchmark 1
Key Concept
Electrical and/or mechanical components of complex machines


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 3/High School/Benchmark 1
Real World Context
Machines such as:

  • bicycles
  • automobiles
  • electrical motors
  • pumps


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 3/High School/Benchmark 1
Instructional Example

Benchmark Question: How can we control the motion of objects?

Focus Question: Where and how are forces applied in a complex machine?

The teacher will set up several numbered stations with one complex machine per station (e.g., egg beater, pencil sharpener, bicycle, stapler). Students will be assigned a number that directs them to a station. Student groups will discuss the force applied and the direction of that force. They then will draw a diagram of their item that illustrates both the force and direction of application as well as the resulting motion. Each group will explain its diagram to the class.

Constructing: (SCI.I.1.HS.2).

Reflecting: (SCI.II.1HS.2), (SCI.II.1HS.5).


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 3/High School/Benchmark 1
Assessment Example

Students will choose a complex machine and analyze the transfer of force from input to output. Students then will construct a model or draw a diagram of the machine. Each student will explain the analysis of the transfer of force in his or her machine during a presentation to the class.

(Give students rubric before activity.)

Scoring Rubric






Completeness of construction

Gives incomplete model/ diagram with no labels.

Gives complete model/ diagram with few labels.

Gives complete model/ diagram with some labels.

Gives complete model/diagram with all labels.

Correctness of analysis

Identifies correctly the input or output force.

Identifies correctly the initial input and the output force.

Identifies correctly all force transfers within the machine.

Identifies correctly all force transfers as well as the simple machines in the complex machine.


Science/Strand IV/Content Standard 3/High School/Benchmark 1


Balmer, Al. Mouse Trap Cars: The Secrets to Success. Doc Fizzix, 1998.

Beven, Roy. Move With Science: Energy, Force & Motion. NSTA, 1998.

Gartrell, Jack. Methods of Motion. NSTA, 1998.