Teaching Physical Science with Children’s Literature: The Science Book of Motion


The Science Book of Motion by Neil Ardley is a book containing 13 experiments that show students different examples of how forces effect objects in motion. Ardley begins the book by briefly defining motion. “Motion occurs whenever something changes place.” (pg 6) The experiments are easy to do and can usually be performed at home or in the classroom with regular household items. For example, Ardley’s first experiment is titled “Lift off!” All that is needed is tissue paper, water, a plastic cup, and an empty liquid soap bottle. The tissue is soaked in water in order to make a plug that is shoved into the empty bottle’s neck. The cup is then placed over the plug. Squeezing the bottle provides the force needed to push the plug out of the bottle and carry the cup with it up into the air. The force of gravity brings it back down to earth. Ardley also shows experiments on forces such as inertia, friction, and kinetic energy and how they effect objects that are in or about to be in motion. “In a spin” is an experiment focusing on inertia. It requires an egg and a bowl. I tried this one at home. I spun the egg in a bowl and then gently grasped the egg so the it stopped. I let it go once more without spinning it and it started to spin on it’s own. The inertia of the liquid inside the egg caused the egg to continue spinning.The Science Book of Motion contains photographs as opposed to illustrations. In each of the experiments there is picture of an example of the types of force Ardley teaches. In the “Lift off!” experiment, there is a picture of the Space Shuttle blasting off.

Curriculum Connections
The Science Book of Motion
would be perfect for students in the 4th and 5th grade.   Students who read this book should have a better understanding of how different forces affect objects that are still or in motion.  The experiments focus on the forces of gravity, friction, inertia, magnetism, and kinetic energy and allow students the opportunity to observe how objects behave when affected by those forces. (VA SOL 4.2 b-d)  One experiment is dedicated to producing sound via motion. (VA SOL 5.2b)  Another experiment shows applications in magnetism which 2nd grade teachers could introduce to their classes if the experiment is teacher led. (VA SOL 2.2b)

Additional Resources

  • The First School Years is a website that contains worksheets, online activities and other educational resources to help children learn concepts of motion.
  • Dicovery Education is a website that contains a “Lesson Plans Library.” This link goes directly to the “Rules of Force and Motion” page and it is for children who are learning Physical Science in the 4th and 5th grades.
  • Instructor Web contains a page that is dedicated to teaching elementary students gravity.

Book: The Science Book of Motion
Author: Neil Ardley
Photographer: Pete Gardner
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Publication Date: 1992
Pages: 29 pages
Grade Range:  4th and 5th
ISBN: 0-15-200622-2

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