Bundle 2: Collisions

Tier 2: Engineering to Minimize Impact

Tier 2: Engineering to Minimize Impact


Student should investigate safety equipment and treatment for concussions and will engineer their own product to improve the protection of athletes at risk.


In this Tier 2 activity, students apply Newton’s third law to design a solution to the problem of concussions occurring that involves two colliding objects (depending on what sport the students are studying, most likely one of these objects will be the athlete).

Big questions:

While researching and investigating current concussion safety equipment, students will work to answer this big question along the way:

  • How can sports be more safe when it comes to preventing, being aware of, and treating concussions?

Standards addressed:

Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.
 MS-ETS1-1  Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions. 
 MS-ETS1-2  Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
 MS-ETS1-3  Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success. 
 MS-ETS1-4  Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.

Tier in depth:

Part I: MS-PS2-1: First, students investigate what equipment is already out there designed specifically for concussion safety. This might be equipment the athlete wears or tests the athlete has to complete. Students find out how the equipment is tested, find existing data of the equipment from tests, or gather data using the PhET Collision Lab simulation. Next, students design an improved version or new version of the equipment. This design should eventually include a model created by the students. Again, data is gathered using the simulation and then analyzed and interpreted for optimal operational range for the proposed object (the model students have designed) to meet the criteria of providing a safer environment for the athlete. Through analysis and interpretation of the data, the students will determine what parts of their model will need to be re-designed/re-built to achieve optimization and provide evidence of why their design is considered optimal.

Part II: MS-PS3-1: To again further expand their investigations, students can use their data to create graphical displays demonstrating the relationship of kinetic energy to the mass of an object and to the speed of an object. Students should include in their explanation of their investigation how the kinetic energy of an object is proportional to the mass of the moving object and grows with the square of its speed.