Forces and springs

Stretching and bouncing

Supports National Curriculum, Key Stages 1 and 2 Unit 3E Suitable for years 3, 4,5 and 6

The time for whole session is about 45 minutes depending on the length of time spent on examples.

Outline of content
Aims to:

  • Establish what the children know through a fun demonstration
  • Explore elastic and inelastic properties of materials
  • Through class activities show that for elastic materials, the greater the force applied the greater the extension
  • Also show: the thinner the elastic, the greater the stretch
  • Provide examples that will help to estimate the size of forces
  • Introduce springs and show they have elastic properties
  • Through examples show springs acting in compression as well as extension
  • Bring out that springs are useful- in particular they can save lives

Points to note:
Please read the notes about safety and agree the assessment with the teacher before the session! Particular care should to be taken when using springs and stretching elastic objects. If stretched carelessly, elastic may break and flick back very painfully, but only the eyes are at serious risk.

Cross references

  • The slides in the PowerPoint presentation (5.3 MB) are referenced in the table.
  • As the presentation may be running throughout the session some simple slides provide a suitable background, alternatively switch to a black screen.
  • Apparatus details are below the table and are linked to the relevant sections.
  • Hints about risks are below the table
  • Vocabulary: The presentation uses expressions included in the KS1 and 2 strategies.

Misconceptions to be corrected:

  • Only ‘elastic’ is elastic.
  • Plastic is a material rather than a property.
  • Springs only work when stretched i.e. compression not understood.

With thanks to Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare for allowing us to use the images of stents in the PowerPoint presentation