Open-and-go lessons that inspire kids to love science.

Science curriculum for K—5th grades.

Video thumbnail
90 sec
  • Hands-on lead students in the doing of science and engineering.
  • NGSS-aligned and Common Core make the transition to the Next Generation Science Standards and support Common Core.
  • Less prep, more learning prep in minutes not hours. Captivate your students with short videos and discussion questions.

Sign up now to try Mystery Science for free.

Sign up   or   Pin for later

Force Olympics

Forces, Machines, & Engineering

  1. Lessons
  2. Activity Prep
  3. Assessments

Mystery 1: Pushes, Pulls, & “Work Words"

Be a Digging Machine

Make sure students have enough space to move around as they dig like a digging machine. No other preparation needed.

Read-Along Mystery 2: Pushes, Pulls, & “Work Words”

Forces at Work

For the Read-Along Mystery, you don’t need any materials.

As a recommended activity, we suggest watching videos of construction equipment, discuss what each machine does, and identify the "work words" involved.

Mystery 3: Strength & Direction of Force

Don't Crush That House

Step 1: Decide how many game stations you will need.

Your students will play the Wrecking Ball game in groups, taking turns. We suggest 4 to 6 students per game station. Decide how many students you’ll have in a group.

Step 2: Get supplies

You need the supplies listed below for one game station. Multiply them by the number of game stations you need:

  • printout of Game Station pieces
  • one 8-½ x 11 sheet of paper (from the recycling bin if you like)
  • Yardstick or meterstick
  • Ribbon, yarn, or string (48” or 1 ¼ meters long)
  • 2 large binder clips (1 ¼ “ wide)
  • a wastebasket, chair, or box to serve as a support
  • 3 Solo or paper cups (we use 9 oz cups. If you use larger cups, you will need to move the houses farther from the wall.)

To set up the game stations, you will need a small piece of transparent tape for the wrecking ball and masking tape to tape down the game board and set up the wrecking ball.

Step 3: Prepare Game Stations before class

Before class, get all the Game Station pieces ready for your students. Follow the directions below or watch this video on how we put the stations together here at Mystery Science.

  1. Cut out and fold the Foldable Houses page. (If you are making multiple stations, you can use a paper cutter.)
  2. Fold the Foldable Wrecking Ball and tie it to the end of the ribbon, following the instructions printed on the sheet. Use transparent tape to keep the Wrecking Ball from unfolding.
  3. You are going to use masking tape to attach the yardstick to your support. To see how, watch this short video. For easier taping, clip the stick to the support first. Make sure the stick is at a 45º angle. Tape at two points — high & low.
  4. wreckingball

  5. Adjust length of ribbon so that the wrecking ball will hit the top of the cups as it swings.Clip the ribbon in place with binder clip.
  6. Tape Game Board to floor, like this. (Match A with A and B with B.)


Your students will set up the cups and houses when they are ready to play. gameboard

Read-Along Mystery 4: Strength & Direction of Force

Human Bumper Bowling

We recommend having students work in groups of 4 to 6.

For each group, you’ll need:

  • 6 large plastic Solo cups to use as bowling pins
  • 1 tennis ball
  • hardcover books to use as “bumpers” (two for each group of four; four for each group of six)

You’ll also need:

  • Masking tape for setting up “bowling alley”
  • Ruler or yardstick for setting up “bowling alley”

To prepare before class:

Decide how many “bowling alleys” you’ll set up and where you’ll put them. Using masking tape, mark off alleys that are 10 feet long and 2-½ feet wide. Mark a box at the end to set the pins in. Leave room between your bowling alleys for students to sit on the floor. (See picture below.)

Bowling Set Up

Mystery 5: Forces & Engineering

Boulder Bounce

In this game, students work in pairs to save Tiny Town by guiding a bouncing-ball “boulder” into a paper cup.

Step 1: Plan ahead

Decide how many game stations you’ll need. We suggest one station for every pair of students, but you can set up as many stations as you think might be practical for your classroom. For setup instructions, see Step 4, below.

Step 2: Print out materials

Step 3: Get supplies

For each game station, you’ll need:

  • 1 small ball, such as a ping-pong ball or superball
  • 2 small cups that the ball fits into, such as Dixie cups
  • a large binder clip and 4 pieces of corrugated cardboard, each about 8½ x 11 (or you can use a clipboard and 2 pieces of corrugated cardboard)
  • 5 pushpins
  • enough books make a stack that’s about 3 inches high

To prepare the game stations, you’ll also need:

  • scissors
  • masking tape

Step 4: Prepare for class

Tiny Town

Before class begins, you’ll need to set up the game stations:

  1. Make a “cardboard hill” by stacking 4 pieces of cardboard and clipping them together using a large binder clip. (If you are using a clipboard, stack two pieces of cardboard and insert under the clip of the clipboard.)

  2. Make a 3-inch stack of books on a desk or table. Make a hill by setting the clipped end of your cardboard on the edge of the books.

  3. Tape the bottom of the cardboard to the table to keep the assembly from slipping.

  4. Tape one cup to the top right corner of the cardboard. Be sure the lip of the cup sits ON TOP of the cardboard’s edge, and not below it.

  5. Tape the other cup to the bottom left corner of the cardboard, so that it hangs off the edge of the clipboard and onto the table. Be sure the lip of the cup sits BELOW the edge of the cardboard, and not on top of it.

  6. Cut out the Tiny Town houses, fold, and place them next to the cup at the bottom of the ramp. Stick the pushpins into the top left corner of the assembly, and the game station is ready to go.

Read-Along Mystery 6: Forces & Engineering

Be an Inventor

For the Read-Along Mystery, you don’t need any materials.

As a recommended activity, we suggest exploring what it takes to be an inventor by drawing possible inventions. Students will need drawing supplies.

We also suggest an additional hands-on activity from Teach Engineering for those who want to go farther. You will find a list of activities and supplies for that activity in the link provided at the end of this mystery.