Grade Levels: 3-5, K-3

In this motions and mass lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 1-4, students use a free online science game to explore the principles of physics, mass, force, and motion.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments


  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Computers with internet access for BrainPOP


This lesson plan uses a free online game called SpaceForce. In this game, players undertake a journey across the solar system aboard the starship Copernicus. Their goal is to use science to recover lost treasures of the Queen’s Galactic Council using principles of physics. Game play provides practical experiences to aid in understanding of motion in two dimensions. Early levels are quite simple, with players testing how pushes and pulls work to move a mass. As the game progresses, they will have additional opportunities to solve increasingly complex treasure-hunting tasks. Correctly solving these challenges requires a grasp of motion concepts including inertia and momentum, which are explored as the game goes on. Beating each round also requires some trial-and-error as players test how various options affect the modeled systems. After spending time with SpaceForce, students of various ages will come away with a strong sense of how mass and force can affect motion in a vacuum (where friction and gravity can be ignored).

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Play either the BrainPOP Jr. Pushes and Pulls movie or the BrainPOP Acceleration or Force movies, depending on your students' levels and the key concepts you want to highlight with the game. Talk with students about what they learned.
  2. Tell students they will have the opportunity to explore more about these physics concepts through an online game called SpaceForce.
  3. Display the game on your interactive whiteboard.
  4. Introduce the first level, in which students use robo balls to push treasure into the treasure chest. Demonstrate how to use the mouse cursor to highlight any of the objects located in the blue palette window at the top of the level, and click and hold the left button on the mouse to pick up the object. Release the left mouse button while on top of one of the highlighted placement markers in the level (highlighted placement markers will glow green when you are close enough to drop an object). After placing your object, click the ‘Play’ button in the top left of the level to set the object in motion.
  5. You may want to demonstrate how to play additional levels in the game prior to releasing students to play independently.
  6. Pair students up and provide 10-15 minutes for them to explore the game.
  7. Bring the group back to a whole class discussion. Talk with students about their game play strategies with students and help them make connections to what they learned in the BrainPOP movie.
  8. Assess student learning using the game quiz.