Innovation: George Rickey Kinetic Sculpture
South Bend 2009 - 2010

Lesson 12: Forces and their effects
Grades: all, depending on the leading questions
- mostly grades 7-12

Resources: (1) More
pictures of Rickey sculptures; (2) Three 30 second videos of the sculptures

    Possible Questions
What is a force?
What types of forces do you know about - or can you make a list of forces?
Are all these forces constant or do they vary in time and/space?
What is the relationship between forces and motion?
What types of motion are there? Can you describe rotational and translational motion?
How does Rickey use forces to make his sculptures move?

Teacher help:
This can be an introduction to Newton’s laws of motion.
How forces affect objects and how first the mass, and then the distribution of mass (thinking about the center-of-mass) becomes important in producing the motion.
The concept of acceleration might be introduced at the upper grades.
Hands-on group work can include building Rickey-like models which produce rotational motion, under the influence of different forces
- e.g. gravity (such as a pendulum) and/or a wind generator (box-fan).
The students can vary the distance to the fan, and measure the changes that occur in the motion of the model.
In high school, they should be able to come up with specific hypotheses, and test them.
Summing up the experience: Compare the results of the students: do they understand the relationships posed in the first part?
Can they discuss the motion of objects around them - such as cars, merry go-rounds, swings, etc.
Extensions: How does a Sailboat use the wind?
How does the wind (and gravity) affect kicking a football - for example, a field-goal kicked to and against the wind.

Some Standards

Science 8.1 #1: Students design and carry out increasingly sophisticated investigations.
Science K-12 #1: Students are actively engaged in beginning to explore how their world works.
Science & math:#6: Students make decisions about how to set up a problem. (Problem solving)
Language Arts: #1.7 Students listen critically and respond appropriately to oral communication.