Janet Russeau
Technology Applications Specialist

Matchbox Cars, Gravity, & Force (Grade 3)

Project Published 9/4/12 Last updated on 2/28/20
Students will be completing hands-on experiments that require them to record the speed of Matchbox cars with changing inclines. The students will be lead to answer several non-investigative and investigative questions along the way. When they are finished, they will create a presentation to explain their results. Students will choose from a menu of presentation formats.
Age Levels
1+ Week
Content Standards
Custom Standards

State of Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCEs) for Grade 3 Met By This Inquiry:

Inquiry Process

K-7 Standard S.IP: Develop an understanding that scientific inquiry and reasoning involves observing, questioning, investigating, recording, and developing solutions to problems.

  • S.IP.E.1 Inquiry involves generating questions, conducting investigations, and developing solutions to problems through reasoning and observation.
  • S.IP.03.11 Make purposeful observation of the natural world using the appropriate senses.
  • S.IP.03.12 Generate questions based on observations.
  • S.IP.03.13 Plan and conduct simple and fair investigations.
  • S.IP.03.14 Manipulate simple tools that aid observation and data collection (for example: hand lens, balance, ruler, meter stick, measuring cup, thermometer, spring scale, stop watch/timer).
  • S.IP.03.15 Make accurate measurements with appropriate units (centimeters, meters, Celsius, grams, seconds, minutes) for the measurement tool.
  • S.IP.03.16 Construct simple charts and graphs from data and observations.

Inquiry Analysis and Communication

K-7 Standard S.IA: Develop an understanding that scientific inquiry and investigations require analysis and communication of findings, using appropriate technology.

  • S.IA.E.1 Inquiry includes an analysis and presentation of findings that lead to future questions, research, and investigations.
  • S.IA.03.11 Summarize information from charts and graphs to answer scientifi c questions.
  • S.IA.03.12 Share ideas about science through purposeful conversation in collaborative groups.
  • S.IA.03.13 Communicate and present fi ndings of observations and investigations.
  • S.IA.03.14 Develop research strategies and skills for information gathering and problem solving.
  • S.IA.03.15 Compare and contrast sets of data from multiple trials of a science investigation to explain reasons for differences.

Reflection and Social Implications

K-7 Standard S.RS: Develop an understanding that claims and evidence for their scientific merit should be analyzed. Understand how scientists decide what constitutes scientific knowledge. Develop an understanding of the importance of reflection on scientific knowledge and its application to new situations to better understand the role of science in society and technology.

  • S.RS.E.1 Reflecting on knowledge is the application of scientific knowledge to new and different situations. Reflecting on knowledge requires careful analysis of evidence that guides decision-making and the application of science throughout history and within society.
  • S.RS.03.11 Demonstrate scientifi c concepts through various illustrations, performances, models, exhibits, and activities.
  • S.RS.03.14 Use data/samples as evidence to separate fact from opinion.
  • S.RS.03.15 Use evidence when communicating scientific ideas.
  • S.RS.03.16 Identify technology used in everyday life.

Force and Motion

K-7 Standard P.FM: Develop an understanding that the position and/or motion of an object is relative to a point of reference. Understand forces affect the motion and speed of an object and that the net force on an object is the total of all of the forces acting on it. Understand the Earth pulls down on objects with a force called gravity. Develop an understanding that some forces are in direct contact with objects, while other forces are not in direct contact with objects.

  • P.FM.E.2 Gravity- Earth pulls down on all objects with a force called gravity. With very few exceptions, objects fall to the ground no matter where the object is on the Earth.
  • P.FM.03.22 Identify the force that pulls objects towards the Earth.
  • P.FM.E.3 Force- A force is either a push or a pull. The motion of objects can be changed by forces. The size of the change is related to the size of the force. The change is also related to the weight (mass) of the object on which the force is being exerted. When an object does not move in response to a force, it is because another force is being applied by the environment.
  • P.FM.03.35 Describe how a push or a pull is a force.
  • P.FM.03.36 Relate a change in motion of an object to the force that caused the change of motion.
  • P.FM.03.37 Demonstrate how the change in motion of an object is related to the strength of the force acting upon the object and to the mass of the object.
  • P.FM.E.4 Speed- An object is in motion when its position is changing. The speed of an object is defined by how far it travels in a standard amount of time. *
  • P.FM.03.41 Describe the motion of objects in terms of direction.
  • * P.FM.03.42 Identify changes in motion (change direction, speeding up, slowing down).
  • P.FM.03.43 Relate the speed of an object to the distance it travels in a standard amount of time.

All Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations taken directly from the Science Third Grade GLCE (PDF) retrieved from,4615,7-140-28753_33232---,00.html

ISTE Standards
Students: Creative Communicator, Students: Innovative Designer


  • 1 Matchbox Car
  • 1 Piece of Matchbox car track
  • 3 Building Blocks (all the same size)
  • Pencil
  • Pad of paper
  • Stopwatch
  • Audio/Video recording device (e.g., iPod touch, iPad, Flip, video camera, SmartPhone, other tablet, etc.)
  • Computer with internet access and appropriate software/resources
CC License
Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
5 / 5 • 4 Ratings

Resources (2)

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