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PreK-Grade 12 International Day and Boarding School in Kobe, Japan | Since 1913


Grade 3 Unit of Inquiry ‘Forces and Motion’

Grade 3 Unit of Inquiry ‘Forces and Motion’

There are multiple types of forces around us - how can we use them to make our lives better? Our G3 students studied the ‘Forces and Motion’ unit, where they explored different ways in which forces cause movement and then developed ideas for a machine that used various types of forces to help their lives.

The students started the unit with a marble rolling activity. You might imagine that a marble usually rolls quite fast on a smooth surface; however, in this activity, the students challenged themselves to use the force of friction and have the marble roll as slowly as possible. Using different materials such as bumpy tape and fluffy cloth, some groups successfully saw their marble rolling very slowly on their structures. 

On a different day, the students were excited to welcome a guest teacher, a science specialist as well as the mother of a G3 student, and enjoyed some experiments. These experiments were to see how energy could be transferred between objects. One of the most exciting experiments for the students was the ‘popsicle stick bomb.’ 


They constructed a chain of popsicle sticks in a special way so that the sticks got their kinetic energy from the stored potential energy derived from being bent under and on top of each other. The construction process looked relatively complicated, but our students patiently cooperated with their peers to complete their chain and happily saw it ‘exploding.’

After learning about different types of forces through various activities, the students worked on their final project. The goal of the project was to create a machine that would make their lives easier. The students started by identifying issues they wanted to see solved in their everyday lives. Then, they developed ideas for a machine that could help them solve the problem, using different types of forces and motion.

The variety of students’ creative ideas for this project was impressive. One of the students made a ‘hamster poop collector’ because she has a hamster at home and has trouble cleaning their droppings without touching them. She explained that her product uses pulleys, wheels and axles to transform potential energy into kinetic energy, picking up droppings and carrying them. This is a great example of the connection between what she learned from the class and her real-life experience. Other examples of the students’ original products included a window wipe, a scribble car, a snack zipline, and a soccer practice wall.


As you have been informed from this article, our students learn through various types of experiences: hands-on activities, exciting experiments, and collaboration with external specialists, to name a few. Our Units of Inquiry, in which our teachers carefully design and integrate a number of opportunities, provide our students with meaningful and outstanding learning experiences and inspiration.