ALEX Learning Activity


Chain Reactions

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Meghan Denson
System:Hoover City
School:Brock's Gap Intermediate School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 1631
Chain Reactions
Digital Tool/Resource:
99 Amazing Chain Reactions Video from YouTube
Web Address – URL:

Showing the video of a long chain reaction will allow students to understand the use of force to create the reactions that happen. 

This learning activity was created as a result of the Girls Engaged in Math and Science University, GEMS-U Project.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
3 ) Investigate to determine changes in energy resulting from increases or decreases in speed that occur when objects collide.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Planning and Carrying out Investigations
Crosscutting Concepts: Energy and Matter
Disciplinary Core Idea: Energy
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Use evidence from investigations to describe changes in energy that occur when objects collide.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • collide
  • relative motion
  • relative speed
  • relative brightness
  • phenomenon
  • inertia
  • momentum
Students know:
  • Qualitative measure of energy (e.g. relative motion, relative speed, relative brightness) before the collision.
  • Mechanism of energy transfer.
  • Energy can transfer between colliding objects.
  • Energy can transfer to the surrounding air when objects collide resulting in sound and heat.
Students are able to:
  • Plan and carry out an investigation to determine changes in energy that occur when objects collide.
    • Identify the evidence to address the purpose of the investigation.
    • Collect the data.
  • Use data to provide evidence that energy is present whenever there are moving objects, sound, light, or heat and that it can be transferred from place to place.
Students understand that:
  • Energy can be transferred in various ways and between objects.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Energy and Waves

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.4.3- Identify the effect of an opposing force on a moving object.

Learning Objectives:

Students will design and improve a chain reaction to investigate changes in energy from one object to another because of a collision.  

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

1. Teacher shows the video on ultimate chain reaction to students. 

2. The teacher leads a discussion of what students noticed when watching the video. Make a chart of all the items noticed such as the force needed to knock down the next item, the kinetic energy as items move, and which object has potential energy. 

3. Students are placed in groups of no more than 4 students to work as a team to create a chain reaction. 

4. Students use items from around the classroom to make a chain reaction as a team. 

5. Students test, evaluate, and improve their chain reactions until they work all the way through the chain. 

6. Students share chain reactions with the class and use evidence from the investigation to describe changes in energy that occurred when the objects collide.

7. Students write a reflection paragraph about what they learned and must use the key terms force, cause-and-effect, potential energy, and kinetic energy. 

Assessment Strategies:

The teacher can assess student understanding by observing their chain reaction models and analyzing their reflection paragraph to determine if students used evidence collected from investigations to describe changes in energy that occur when objects collide.

Advanced Preparation:

Students will need to know the definitions of force, motion, kinetic energy, and potential energy. 

Variation Tips (optional):

Teachers can set certain materials for the chain reaction instead of using any material in the classroom. 

Notes or Recommendations (optional):
  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: