Sir Isaac Newton’s Universal Law of Gravity and Three Laws of Motion were “hip” at a recent Eastmont Middle School assembly as students discovered how science is connected to everyday life through a traveling assembly complete with songs, Velcro walls, extreme wrestlers and other interactive experiments.
The Forces in Motion assembly, or FMA Live, produced by NASA and Honeywell, has been traveling for 10 years, reaching 1,000 schools including Eastmont Middle School on Nov. 20. The program is designed to inspire middle school students to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts and careers and introduce them to forces and motion principles that are part of the state core curriculum for middle-schoolers.
“STEM is the future of our student learning and of student careers so when I learned about the assembly, I applied for it to come here because I felt it was important for our Eastmont students to have this opportunity,” Principal Stacy Kurtzhals said.
In the assembly, the cast engaged student, teacher and principal volunteers. Kurtzhals took part during the third law, or “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” So, when students hit a target that was connected to a machine Kurtzhals sat in, a cornstarch-applesauce concoction spilled on her head, sending students into laughter.
Sixth-grader Kylee Richardson, who knew nothing about Sir Isaac Newton’s laws, tried to kick three different-sized soccer balls into a goal. The first was a typical soccer ball, but Kylee discovered it was more challenging to kick a larger one into the goal and impossible to put one in that was the same height as she was.
“I couldn’t even move the third one,” Kylee said. “I needed more force.”
Kylee and her classmates discovered that force equals mass times acceleration or that she needed to increase her speed and have more weight to kick a human-sized soccer ball into the goal.
Science teachers Rita Egbert and DeAnn Kennedy demonstrated to students the same concept as they put on sumo-style suits and tried to force one another down as students’ cheered.
Cast member John “JJ” James said these examples are aimed at students to help them understand the concepts in a simplified and memorable way.
“Some of these laws are complicated, abstract topics that can be difficult to explain, and students can become intimidated by them,” he said. “This assembly simplifies them, bringing the concepts to them through music, physics and fun so students will remember them and be inspired to discover that science and engineering is around them every day, everywhere, and in everything.”
Although the songs and choreography are designed to inspire students, JJ said the show has been collaborated with NASA educators and provides teachers information and materials for ongoing use in their classrooms.