Wind and gravity as forces.

Discussion in 'Science' started by sara2323, Jan 31, 2011.

1. sara2323New commenter

I'm a PGCE student and am teaching forces in science (year 1). During a lesson today on 'wind as a force', with the outcome 'understand that it is not just ourselves that move things'. Previous lessons looked at pushes and pulls. The teacher highlighted that wind is not a force but an example of a push force, the next lesson is looking at gravity as a force- she has again highlighted that gravity is not a force but an example of a pull force and that there are only three forces, push, pull and twists.
I have used the Scholastic 100 lessons book and the Acieving QTS standards handbook but none of them say that only pushes, pulls and twists are forces.
It has not been noted that I am lacking subject knowledge, but before I teach my next lesson I want to be clear that she is right, however even when reseatching online and from my previous knowledge I can see that gravity is a force :-(

2. sara2323New commenter

I'm a PGCE student and am teaching forces in science (year 1). During a lesson today on 'wind as a force', with the outcome 'understand that it is not just ourselves that move things'. Previous lessons looked at pushes and pulls. The teacher highlighted that wind is not a force but an example of a push force, the next lesson is looking at gravity as a force- she has again highlighted that gravity is not a force but an example of a pull force and that there are only three forces, push, pull and twists.
I have used the Scholastic 100 lessons book and the Acieving QTS standards handbook but none of them say that only pushes, pulls and twists are forces.
It has not been noted that I am lacking subject knowledge, but before I teach my next lesson I want to be clear that she is right, however even when reseatching online and from my previous knowledge I can see that gravity is a force :-(

3. MarkSNew commenter

Hello Sara,
I hope your PGCE is going well...keep it up!
It's common among primary teachers for their Science knowledge to need a bit of brushing up - I can say that because my wife teaches reception and I've led INSET for primary teachers!
It sounds like your mentor/class teacher has a few misconceptions, and obviously you want to tread very carefully so as not to hurt their pride! It's true that forces can be simply categorised as pushes or pulls; to twist or bend actually needs at least two forces, but lets not complicate things.
All forces can be grouped in this way, but that doesn't mean that gravity, friction, air resistance etc. aren't forces. Gravity is a force (physicists...lets not get pedantic please) and should be called a force. It pulls things down (meaning towards the centre of the Earth, or other object - I have plenty of KS3 students who struggle with that bit). Wind is a bit harder...wind isn't really a force, but it exerts a 'push' on anything the air hits.
As it stands, your class teacher/mentor has demonstrated a misunderstanding of forces, so good luck dealing this!
Feel free to ask any further questions!
Mark

4. blazerStar commenter

Lets get this right. You mean year 1 in infant school? Forces!!!

6. p1j39New commenter

My understanding is that gravity is not a force but a field. It pulls objects to a centre of mass. I pull and push doors but I would not describe myself as a force.

And physicists are not pedantic, we try to be accurate with our words to prevent misconceptions and misunderstandings.

7. blazerStar commenter

It would be nice if our year 7s could spell 'forces' and write it in joined up letters using a pen!

8. lunaritaEstablished commenter

But we do talk about the force due to gravity and I think, for Y1, that we don't need to worry too much about the difference.

9. MarkSNew commenter

But that doesn't help a colleague trying to teach forces to Year 1. I'm a physicist...I know the chat about gravity! Gravity is an interaction between masses - you can describe it as distortion of space (General Relativity), exchange of gravitons (quantum theory, work in progress) or as Newton did...mathematically without worrying about the mechanism.
Indeed, you are not a force; it is the refusal of the particles in your hand to merge with those in the door which causes a force, of the electromagnetic kind.
But again...everything in italics above is of no use to a colleague teaching Year 1. Gravity is the force that pulls everything 'down'.
Mark

10. MarkSNew commenter

Thank you lunarita!!!

11. sara2323New commenter

Thank you for all the comments, they are really helpful. I have always understood gravity as a force but since the comments by the teacher I questioned my own understading. I am clear that gravity is a force and we experience this force as a 'pull'. I'm not sure whether I can mention this to the teacher as she does not trust my subject knowledge and may have to leave it there. I think I am still going to teach it as a force and leave it to the tutors at university to comment on the observation.
I'm still confused about wind and although my outcome was 'to understand that it is not only ourselves that cause movement' I will look at wind as a movement of air that pushes things and not refer to it as a force.

12. MarkSNew commenter

Sounds spot on Sara! Good luck!
Mark

13. blazerStar commenter

Try flying kites of making a sailing ship (a raft with a mast and paper sail)

14. HenriettawaspNew commenter

Right with you there, blazer

15. blazerStar commenter

It just seems bizarre that some countries above us in the league tables don't even have their kids in school till they are 6 or 7 and we are teaching gravity to 5 year olds!

16. mike ryan

Perhaps the problem is that the science we are told has to be taught to the smallest scientists has to be made too simple and then this causes misconceptions, as well as the idea that science has lots of rules that have exceptions. The classic "solids, liquids, gases" problem with categorising toothpaste etc is an example.
I would love to see a move towards having primary schools (certainly for their youngest pupils) mostly concerned with instilling a love of learning and developing the skills to aid learning.
Secondary schools could then turn that love towards a body of knowledge / skills that had been widely reckoned to be desirable.
That is in no way meant to be patronising to primary schools.

17. blazerStar commenter

That would get my vote Mike.