How can we protect a mountain town from falling rocks?
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How can we protect a mountain town from falling rocks?
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Now`say`it’s`moving
fast.`What`do`you
think`will`happen
if`it`bumps`into`a
tree?

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How`could`you
change`which`way
the`boulder`was
rolling,`so`that`it
wouldn’t`hit`the
house?

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Extensions

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity and exploration you just completed.

  • Lesson Assessment
  • Readings: Great resources for learning about pushes, pulls, and changing directions
  • Videos: Have students dive into the tricky nature of controlled avalanches.
  • Activities: Explore more about pushing and pulling, or make your own avalanche!
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Readings

These online books are free for educators registered on Epic!:

Pushing and Pulling by Natalie Hyde helps us discover just exactly which force causes pushes and pulls. (Ages 6-8)

Changing Direction by Natalie Hyde explains why things change direction and how that helps us in everyday life. (Ages 6-8)

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Videos: Controlled Avalanches

Avalanches can be very dangerous, but sometimes it is necessary to create controlled avalanches to protect towns and people. Here are several videos demonstrating different ways people create avalanches:

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Extra Activities

  • Create an Avalanche: Instructions to make a simple and safe avalanche from the US Forest Service.

  • Force Experiments: Simple and fun projects from We Are Teachers, teaching all about pushes and pulls.

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Print Prep
Activity Prep

In this lesson, students investigate how pushes can change the speed and direction of falling objects. In the activity, Boulder Bounce, students play a game where they design a solution that protects a model town called Tiny Town from a bouncing-ball “boulder.”

Preview activity

COVID-19 Adaptations
Teacher demo recommended

Students at home
Set up one Game Station to demonstrate the activity over video conference. Have students make the decisions about where the pushpins should go to protect the town.
Students at school
Set up one Game Station to demonstrate the activity. Have students make the decisions about where the pushpins should go to protect the town.
Number of students:
Tiny Town Houses printout 1 per pair
Hardcover Books
Each pair of students needs a stack that’s about 3 inches high.
Details
2 books per pair
Corrugated Cardboard
Each pair needs four pieces measuring 8½ x 11 (or you can use a clipboard and 2 pieces of corrugated cardboard).
Details
4 pieces per pair
Dixie Cups (3 oz)
2 cups per pair
Large Binder Clips (2")
If you are using clipboards and 2 pieces of cardboard, you do not need this supply.
Details
1 clip per pair
Masking Tape
1 foot per pair
Push Pins
5 pins per pair
Ping Pong Balls
Bouncy balls also work.
Details
1 ball per pair
Prep Instructions

We suggest students work in pairs. Homeschool students can work on their own.

We suggest one game station for every pair of students, but you can set up as many stations as you think might be practical for your classroom.

Set Up Game Stations Before Class

Tiny Town

  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 with masking tape 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.

Extensions
Download this Lesson to your device so you can play it offline: