The Standards

Middle School

Forces and Interactions

Students who demonstrate understanding can:




Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects. MS-PS2-1

Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

Clarification Statement: Examples of practical problems could include the impact of collisions between two cars, between a car and stationary objects, and between a meteor and a space vehicle.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to vertical or horizontal interactions in one dimension.


Plan an investigation to provide evidence that the change in an object’s motion depends on the sum of the forces on the object and the mass of the object. MS-PS2-2

Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on balanced (Newton’s First Law) and unbalanced forces in a system, qualitative comparisons of forces, mass and changes in motion (Newton’s Second Law), frame of reference, and specification of units.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to forces and changes in motion in one-dimension in an inertial reference frame and to change in one variable at a time. Assessment does not include the use of trigonometry.


Ask questions about data to determine the factors that affect the strength of electric and magnetic forces. MS-PS2-3

Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

Clarification Statement: Examples of devices that use electric and magnetic forces could include electromagnets, electric motors, or generators. Examples of data could include the effect of the number of turns of wire on the strength of an electromagnet, or the effect of increasing the number or strength of magnets on the speed of an electric motor.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment about questions that require quantitative answers is limited to proportional reasoning and algebraic thinking.


Construct and present arguments using evidence to support the claim that gravitational interactions are attractive and depend on the masses of interacting objects. MS-PS2-4

Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

Clarification Statement: Examples of evidence for arguments could include data generated from simulations or digital tools; and charts displaying mass, strength of interaction, distance from the Sun, and orbital periods of objects within the solar system.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include Newton’s Law of Gravitation or Kepler’s Laws.


Conduct an investigation and evaluate the experimental design to provide evidence that fields exist between objects exerting forces on each other even though the objects are not in contact. MS-PS2-5

Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

Clarification Statement: Examples of this phenomenon could include the interactions of magnets, electrically-charged strips of tape, and electrically-charged pith balls. Examples of investigations could include first-hand experiences or simulations.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to electric and magnetic fields, and limited to qualitative evidence for the existence of fields.

Science and Engineering Practices

Asking Questions and Defining Problems

Asking questions and defining problems in grades 6–8 builds from grades K–5 experiences and progresses to specifying relationships between variables and clarifying arguments and models.

Ask questions that can be investigated within the scope of the classroom, outdoor environment, and museums and other public facilities with available resources and, when appropriate, frame a hypothesis based on observations and scientific principles. (MS-PS2-3)

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include investigations that use multiple variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions.

Plan an investigation individually and collaboratively, and in the design: identify independent and dependent variables and controls, what tools are needed to do the gathering, how measurements will be recorded, and how many data are needed to support a claim. (MS-PS2-2)

Conduct an investigation and evaluate the experimental design to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence that can meet the goals of the investigation. (MS-PS2-5)

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to include constructing explanations and designing solutions supported by multiple sources of evidence consistent with scientific ideas, principles, and theories.

Apply scientific ideas or principles to design an object, tool, process or system. (MS-PS2-1)

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Engaging in argument from evidence in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to constructing a convincing argument that supports or refutes claims for either explanations or solutions about the natural and designed world(s).

Construct and present oral and written arguments supported by empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support or refute an explanation or a model for a phenomenon or a solution to a problem. (MS-PS2-4)

Connections to Nature of Science

Science Knowledge Is Based on Empirical Evidence

Science knowledge is based upon logical and conceptual connections between evidence and explanations. (MS-PS2-2), (MS-PS2-4)

Disciplinary Core Ideas

PS2.AForces and Motion

For any pair of interacting objects, the force exerted by the first object on the second object is equal in strength to the force that the second object exerts on the first, but in the opposite direction (Newton’s third law). (MS-PS2-1)

The motion of an object is determined by the sum of the forces acting on it; if the total force on the object is not zero, its motion will change. The greater the mass of the object, the greater the force needed to achieve the same change in motion. For any given object, a larger force causes a larger change in motion. (MS-PS2-2)

All positions of objects and the directions of forces and motions must be described in an arbitrarily chosen reference frame and arbitrarily chosen units of size. In order to share information with other people, these choices must also be shared. (MS-PS2-2)

PS2.BTypes of Interactions

Forces that act at a distance (electric, magnetic, and gravitational) can be explained by fields that extend through space and can be mapped by their effect on a test object (a charged object, or a ball, respectively). (MS-PS2-5)

Electric and magnetic (electromagnetic) forces can be attractive or repulsive, and their sizes depend on the magnitudes of the charges, currents, or magnetic strengths involved and on the distances between the interacting objects. (MS-PS2-3)

Gravitational forces are always attractive. There is a gravitational force between any two masses, but it is very small except when one or both of the objects have large mass—e.g., Earth and the sun. (MS-PS2-4)

Common Core State Standards Connections

  • RST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-PS2-1), (MS-PS2-3)
  • RST.6-8.3 - Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks. (MS-PS2-1), (MS-PS2-2), (MS-PS2-5)
  • WHST.6-8.1 - Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts. (MS-PS2-2)
  • WHST.6-8.7 - Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration. (MS-PS2-1), (MS-PS2-5)
  • 6.EE.A.2 - Write, read, and evaluate expressions in which letters stand for numbers. (MS-PS2-1), (MS-PS2-2)
  • 6.NS.C.5 - Understand that positive and negative numbers are used together to describe quantities having opposite directions or values (e.g., temperature above/below zero, elevation above/below sea level, credits/debits, positive/negative electric charge); use positive and negative numbers to represent quantities in real-world contexts, explaining the meaning of 0 in each situation. (MS-PS2-1)
  • 7.EE.B.3 - Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically. Apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form; convert between forms as appropriate; and assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies. (MS-PS2-1), (MS-PS2-2)
  • 7.EE.B.4 - Use variables to represent quantities in a real-world or mathematical problem, and construct simple equations and inequalities to solve problems by reasoning about the quantities. (MS-PS2-1), (MS-PS2-2)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (MS-PS2-1), (MS-PS2-2), (MS-PS2-3)

Model Course Mapping

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