PS2.A: Forces and Motion
How can one predict an object's continued motion, changes in motion, or stability?
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 Introduction to PS2.A
 K12 Progression and Grade Band End Points for PS2.A
 Performance Expectations Associated with PS2.A
 Additional Resources for PS2.A
Introduction to PS2.A
Interactions of an object with another object can be explained and predicted using the concept of forces, which can cause a change in motion of one or both of the interacting objects. An individual force acts on one particular object and is described by its strength and direction. The strengths of forces can be measured and their values compared.
What happens when a force is applied to an object depends not only on that force but also on all the other forces acting on that object. A static object typically has multiple forces acting on it, but they sum to zero. If the total (vector sum) force on an object is not zero, however, its motion will change. Sometimes forces on an object can also change its shape or orientation. For any pair of interacting objects, the force exerted by the first object on the second object is equal in strength to the force that the second object exerts on the first but in the opposite direction (Newton’s third law).
At the macroscale, the motion of an object subject to forces is governed by Newton’s second law of motion. Under everyday circumstances, the mathematical expression of this law in the form F = ma (total force = mass times acceleration) accurately predicts changes in the motion of a single macroscopic object of a given mass due to the total force on it. But at speeds close to the speed of light, the second law is not applicable without modification. Nor does it apply to objects at the molecular, atomic, and subatomic scales, or to an object whose mass is changing at the same time as its speed.
For speeds that are small compared with the speed of light, the momentum of an object is defined as its mass times its velocity. For any system of interacting objects, the total momentum within the system changes only due to transfer of momentum into or out of the system, either because of external forces acting on the system or because of matter flows. Within an isolated system of interacting objects, any change in momentum of one object is balanced by an equal and oppositely directed change in the total momentum of the other objects. Thus total momentum is a conserved quantity.
K12 Progression and Grade Band End Points for PS2.A
from NGSS Appendix E: Disciplinary Core Idea Progressions
K2  35  68  912 





Grade Band Endpoints for PS2.A
By the end of grade 2. Objects pull or push each other when they collide or are connected. Pushes and pulls can have different strengths and directions. Pushing or pulling on an object can change the speed or direction of its motion and can start or stop it. An object sliding on a surface or sitting on a slope experiences a pull due to friction on the object due to the surface that opposes the object’s motion.
By the end of grade 5. Each force acts on one particular object and has both a strength and a direction. An object at rest typically has multiple forces acting on it, but they add to give zero net force on the object. Forces that do not sum to zero can cause changes in the object’s speed or direction of motion. (Boundary: Qualitative and conceptual, but not quantitative addition of forces are used at this level.) The patterns of an object’s motion in various situations can be observed and measured; when past motion exhibits a regular pattern, future motion can be predicted from it. (Boundary: Technical terms, such as magnitude, velocity, momentum, and vector quantity, are not introduced at this level, but the concept that some quantities need both size and direction to be described is developed.)
By the end of grade 8. For any pair of interacting objects, the force exerted by the first object on the second object is equal in strength to the force that the second object exerts on the first but in the opposite direction (Newton’s third law). The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. Forces on an object can also change its shape or orientation. All positions of objects and the directions of forces and motions must be described in an arbitrarily chosen reference frame and arbitrarily chosen units of size. In order to share information with other people, these choices must also be shared.
By the end of grade 12. Newton’s second law accurately predicts changes in the motion of macroscopic objects, but it requires revision for subatomic scales or for speeds close to the speed of light. (Boundary: No details of quantum physics or relativity are included at this grade level.)
Momentum is defined for a particular frame of reference; it is the mass times the velocity of the object. In any system, total momentum is always conserved. If a system interacts with objects outside itself, the total momentum of the system can change; however, any such change is balanced by changes in the momentum of objects outside the system.